Sunday, September 23, 2007

The diminishing isolated populisms

This week on BlogTalkRadio I had the opportunity to interview John Battelle. You can read up on John or read his blog, Searchblog. He offered a good discussion on information availability, social networks and what he calls "conversational media".

Here's where you can listen to our talk.

John spoke on the show about how interconnected social groups were becoming. So, from a chapter called The Computer and the Counterculture in the book The Cult of Information by Theodore Roszak, I pulled this quote. I believe it describes a fundamental change in individual isolation which is very powerful as most of us imagine:
"Both the quantity and content of available information is set by centralized institutions -- the press, TV, radio, news services, think-tanks, government agencies, schools and universities -- which are controlled by the same interests which control the rest of the economy. By keeping information flowing from the top down, they keep us isolated from each other. ...Computer technology has thus far been used ...mainly by the government and those it represents to store and quickly retrieve vast amounts of information about huge numbers of people...It is this pattern that convinves us that control over the flow of information is so crucial."

Resource One Newsletter April 1974, Berkeley, CA

Friday, August 31, 2007

The beauty (and beast) of free speech

Robert Scoble, famed Microsoft blogger and current media executive of PodTech joins the recently launched Social Media Club talk show on Blogtalkradio, adding his name to the who's who of A-listers (and B, C, D, E etc.-listers) who seem drawn to Blogtalkradio.

Why? Because it extends and enriches the freedom of speech and audience connection elements of blogging, making it a live, interactive conversation.

Does this beautiful freedom come with some new challenges when letters to the editor become the editorial itself? What about credibility, fact-checking and authority. Who's authority? Exactly the topic of conversation on today's talk show:

Listen to: The Social Media Club Show, with guests from north to south and east to west, each of us with a firm opinion about the changing nature of editorial reach and credibility.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hostpage.aspx?show_id=50791

Monday, August 06, 2007

Twittergram tours


Very interesting implementation of Twittergram by Adam Green over at feedonomics. Twittergrams are short sound bytes you can point into the world of Twitter, "microbroadcasting" to your social network or community. The idea came from Dave Winer, whose band of vigilante developers continue to push media distribution as far as they can. BlogTalkRadio provides the call-in capability, which records the Twittergram or you can upload pre-recorded mp3s on the Twittergram site. The LAFD is also using BlogTalkRadio for some great civic services. You guys are on fire! ;)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Aloha Lisacast

Filming on Maui

Join me tomorrow at 10 am PST (or download the podcast later) for Evern Williams and Dr. Lynette Cruz, broadcasting with me live on Lisacast.com. Williams is the community media manager at Olelo television in Honolulu, HI and Dr. Cruz is a cultural anthropology professor and public access activist.

I have my own ties to this part of the world having lived for a time on Oahu. I first learned about co-located server infrastructures on the first ISP on the islands. The gentleman I worked for, an engineer, taught me about data storage, security and the business of moving information. This was the foundation for my subsequent interest in media management and publishing. and the changes we've seen for more than a decade surrounding our romance with all things digital. I also held other odd but interesting jobs and had the best meal of my life to date, right there in downtown Honolulu. The name of the restaurant is Chef Mavro, by the way.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tris and Jim launch The Mediasphere Show

My boss Alan Levy of BlogTalkRadio and I had a great time talking with Jim Turner and Tris Hussey on their new talk show today, The Mediasphere Show.

Their site, http://www.blogonomics.net, discusses social media. Humble and inquisitive, these podcasters gone broadcast are a fine addition to the BlogTalkRadio network -- welcome!

You can hear the show in archive here.

Our discussion touched on BlogTalkRadio's role in the new media realm which was a good follow-up to the Future of Blogging panel I was on at NBC11 last week with PodTech and BlogHer. Some great questions came from the audience on community policies and supporting blogging within the enterprise. Speaking of new media, user-generated broadcasts and such...NBC11 just launched NBC11HomeTown.com, a local reader-contributed news site. Very cool. Big media steps its toe in the pool of democratized content. A lot more of this is coming as the tools to broadcast, podcast and videocast are made more available to everyday people.

As Jim mentioned on the show, you don't need to be technical to have your own broadcast these days.

-Lisa Padilla
"Prodcaster" of Lisacast, a BlogTalkRadio show

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Future of blogging" at the Social Media Club

If you're in the Bay Area and you haven't attended a Social Media Club event yet, this might be the one. I'll be on a panel with Elisa Camahort, Tony Bove and Jeremy Owyang discussing the future of blogging. If you missed it you can catch a slightly less than high-quality video Jeremiah took here.

Ever wonder how you can use a blog? Whether you're reading them, writing them, or aggregating them, blogs are a powerful communication channel that should be part of your media mix. This panel of 3-4 blog experts looks at blogs from a number of angles. We'll cover:

-> Mining the blogosphere for market intelligence
-> External enterprise blogs
-> Internal enterprise blogs
-> Aggregating blogs
-> The future of blogs

Date
Thursday, July 12, 2007

Time
6:00 pm PT - 8:00 pm PT

Location
NBC11/KNTV
2450 N. First Street
San Jose, 95131
Register here if you can make it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Convergent business

I went to New York this week for the first time. It is a big, beautiful city filled with constant examples of the blur between consumers and businesses. This morning I interviewed Rafe Needleman of CNET's Webware on Lisacast, my weekly BlogTalkRadio talk show. I asked his views about the convergence of consumer software applications to those used in the work place.

You can listen here.

You can also listen to Hilary Leewong's 15-minutes of Fame show, where she interviewed me about Lisacast.

Monday, May 28, 2007

New Media Evolves to Radio

Mark Frauenfelder has a captive print and online audience most journalists would envy. But he’s not stopping there. He joins thousands of hosts and hundreds of thousands of listeners who have discovered BlogTalkRadio’s free talk show service when he appears tonight on The Alan Levy Show to discuss his upcoming book release. Levy is the founder and CEO of BlogTalkRadio. To call in to the show and speak with Alan or Mark, dial +1 (347) 677-0649. Listen live at 9 pm EST tonight or download the show from the archive after it airs.

This marks a turning point in broadcast media. Blogtalkradio is empowering citizens worldwide to reach a greater audience and engage a two-way conversation – live.

Frauenfelder is founder and co-editor of the Internet's most popular blog BoingBoing (www.boingboing.net) which boasts 350,000 readers each month and 1 million subscribers. Frauenfelder is also editor-in-chief of MAKE (www.makezine.com) and contributing editor to Wired.com, Madprofessor.net. He has written several books, including the recently completed “Rule the Web: How to Do Anything and Everything on the Internet - Better, Faster, Easier.” Stay tuned for Mark Frauenfelder’s own talk show on Blogtalkradio coming this coming June.

About BlogTalkRadio

BlogTalkRadio is a social radio network that allows anyone in the world to host or listen to a live talk radio show, for free. BlogTalkRadio is inspiring a legion of citizen broadcasters around the world to express themselves through live, interactive radio for the first time.

Thousands of hosts in dozens of categories and hundreds of thousand of listener downloads a month include the Pentagon, the Los Angeles Fire Department, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, Arianna Huffington, liberal political bloggers James Boyce and Taylor Marsh, conservative political bloggers Atlas Shrugs and Ed Morrisey, John Kerry, Bill Richardson, Tom Delay, Jennifer Hudson and Oliver Stone among others.

Unlike other services, BlogTalkRadio requires no software download or podcast equipment. All you need is a telephone or voIP connection to engage your community in real-time conversations. After shows air live, they are archived as podcasts and made available via RSS to iTunes and other services.

Visit BlogTalkRadio.com today for more information or contact Amy Domestico, amydomestico at blogtalkradio.com.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Innovation Journalism Conference May 21-23, 2007

Last night I met with one of my favorite people in the industry, humble ex-physicist David Nordfors, now running the Innovation Journalism department at Stanford University. Next week marks his 4th conference on journalism here in the Bay Area. Keynoted first by Doug Engelbart, who I saw many years ago at Parc, and is speaking here about the societal collective intelligence of society, will be moderated by John Markoff. Next, by Curtis Carlson, on the discipline of innovation (insert whip sound here). Mr Carlson is the president of SRI International. Check out the rest of the speakers here, you'll even find some familiar locals.

Mr. Nordfors, a best practice communication advocate aiming consistently for a program which will allow us to get more out of the event, is changing the format of this years conference slightly by extending the length of breaks and lunches. This way people can connect, which is the whole idea in the first place. As David left our meeting last night to see his son play in a band at the Apple store, I felt very excited about next week and how this, the 4th conference from the department, would be the best yet.

Lisa Padilla and Kjetil Storvik (Nordic Innovation Center: Oslo, Norway) at the Innovation Journalism Conference at Stanford University

I highly recommend reading the Innovation Journalism blog, where you'll find all kinds of interesting programs and a host of global participants dedicated to better journalism. And if you're interested in gathering post conference days with a surely interesting group of academic and journalist types, send me a note. The conference is May 21 - 23 next week.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A thorn in the nice, fluffy cloud

At Netscape in 1999, I recall entering into the office one morning and being approached by reporters asking if I knew about the email scandal between the company and its competitor Microsoft. Having been briefed by a diligent human resources group, I had no comment but was well aware of its happening and the wave of damage control, present and future, it created through our organization. I think I can say that, generally speaking, can't I?

Perhaps more important than the legislation which followed that event was a lesson far greater. The Web offers vast opportunities, really, it's quite fantastic. But it's rapid growth and non-standardized services are more akin to a pool of pirahnas than the relatively slow-moving frontiers we previously conquered in print, radio or TV. Regulations are enforced by priority of the greatest threat, not based on wrongdoing. The whole Internet is a unsupervised free-for-all, where the bullies and the thiefs experience virtual nirvana.

There are pirates worse than those selling films illegally. And a ten year old child finding porn online is nothing compared to the potential information breeches we non-chalantly invite by sending our data over the ether. Who is in charge here? What is the percentage of policemen to citizens around the world? We need a global presence. In the meantime, we have to be vigilante, which is really irritating because not everybody has contacts at the big ISPs. We all have other things to do. It's like having to chase down a bankrobber for your bank.

Excuse my rant but let me pass along some advice. Change your passwords, now. Back everything up and if you aren't friends with someone who knows how to track down fraud on the Web, I hear they drink a lot of coffee those techies. Christen your new friendship with a double, non-fat, frappa-whateva-he-wants.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Participatory Media Supported

Many years ago I worked for a small multimedia company and one of our clients was Macromedia. We wrote documentation for Director 1.0, built interactive help and held trainings around the Bay Area. In my spare time, I used the software to put together a multimedia story for a family member celebrated an 80th birthday, splicing together music, pictures and narration. Sixty people gathered in a local restaurant and watched, it was very sweet.

Today, most podcasters, videobloggers, journalists turned new media (and vice versa) are keen on organizations that are supporting participatory media even though there seems to be a good deal of negative press scrutinizing the business model, quality and even safety. But that's not stopping people who have to tell stories, news to share, and feelings and creativity to express.

Here are three examples of people putting in the time, helping to make media higher quality and even getting paid.

1) Dan Gillmor, who I wrote about in my last post, and the Center for Citizen Media recently published this piece I narrated about accuracy and fixing mistakes in a new section on their site addressing "Principles of Citizen Journalism".

2) I briefly interviewed three attendees of the mobile technology conference at Stanford University: Reuters-sponsored Digital Vision Fellowship Program at Stanford University; a popular blog called onlinepersonalswatch.com; and Nokia's Convergence Products Business Program group.


Coincidentally, John Kuner is on academic leave from Nokia, and his Digital Vision Program focuses on three initiative areas: finance programs including m-commerce, payment services and microfinance; knowledge, as in education, government services and community building; and health and welfare which encompasses health science, public safety and disaster relief.

3) Finally, here is an example of financial support as the world begins to see real value in user-generated content, whether for entertainment, news or otherwise.

Related items:

Article on funding citizen media
Digital Vision Fellowship Program at Stanford
The N800
from Nokia.com
Online Personals Watch
Social Networking Watch
Citizen Journalism Principles at the Center for Citizen Media

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Messy and wonderful"

That is how Dan Gillmor charactizes the state of Citizen Media tonight at the Mid-Peninsula Community Media Center. The long-time blogger and ex-columnist for the San Jose Mercury News now runs the Center for Citizen Media.

Dan touched on the history of the newspaper industry as an example of the changing landscape of journalism and said that for the past 40 years it has been dependent on monopolization. "It was previously bad business to annoy half of your audience."

But the traditional journalism business models are quickly eroding. The product is no longer printed on presses that cost $50-75 million. The competition that previously existed in journalism is much less significant today than the present race for ad dollars. We are struggling to encourage local coverage, which is playing a very important role in the value of community knowledge. Investigative and in-depth reporting sites and those adding value to content like newassignment.net, Witness.org, and dotSUB.com are also key to keeping some structure in place and continuing quality journalism. This discussion on citizen media attracted its own "random acts of journalism," a term Mr. Gillmor uses.

I have been part of Ourmedia.org since last May, which today celebrates its 2nd birthday. Happy Birthday! Two years ago J.D. Lasica and Marc Canter approached Brewster Kale, founder of the Internet Archive, to open the Archive's media repository to user-generated content. This turned out to be a popular idea and Ourmedia.org now enables a widely-available library of deep-tagged media, hosted for free. The content is copyright-indicated so people can use them in their own works if you say so. Ourmedia.org's library includes articles about how to use materials.

What's okay to use and what isn't? What do the different licenses mean? How do you strip out or add audio to a podcast or video? Ourmedia.org answers these questions. Ourmedia.org also sports a peer-to-peer file sharing application from Outhink Media you can use to create all kinds of things called SpinXpress. With SpinXpress you can set up private groups and share large files from one computer to another (without uploading it somewhere else first or emailing large files). These image, sound and video files are almost always huge so it solves a big problem. Plus you can publish to multiple locations, including . The Internet Archive is a really nice clean place to showcase your media too. Here a few pieces I published there. Ourmedia.org is also about to relaunch it's site with a Drupal upgrade, which will improve the user interface and extensibility of the service.

What else to expect in the future from these new media experts?

Dan and J.D. are about to launch a project at the Center for Citizen Media centered around "principles of journalism" which includes topics such as story accuracy, fairness and transparency. Check out the media center for ongoing projects and courses you can take to learn more about video production and editing and more.
When tonight's audience was asked why they came to Dan Gillmor's discussion, a member with a philosophy background said, "I want to change the world."

Let's continue with a common goal of better journalism, encouraging the diligence of formal reporting and working too with the spontaneous, creative nature of citizen-generalted media. Some pictures courtesy of Jeff Schwartz are posted on Flickr.

Related items:

http://www.communitymediacenter.net
http://www.archive.org
http://www.ourmedia.org
http://www.citmedia.org
http://www.metacafe.com
http://www.wikipedia.org (my home page is currently set to this page on the Wikipedia.org site and learn something every day)
http://www.newsvine.com
http://www.blip.tv
http://parr.org

Friday, March 16, 2007

Captology: A pair of shoes or a cell phone?

I heard a story recently of someone traveling to a poverty-stricken area of the world who said "they didn't have shoes, but they had mobile phones." As pervasive ownership is becoming evident, a question is begged. How will devices like cell phones can change the way we think?


When Justin Oberman of Rave Wireless and MoPocket.com calls himself a mobile evangelist, a humorous picture of a man dancing in a mobile phone costume in the mall comes to mind. But Mr. Oberman has some serious views on the use of the ever-growing platform. Here's Justin (and thank you kindly for the interview) with Jeff Schwartz of Disruptive Strategies at Stanford University’s Mobile Persuasion last month.

Stanford University has begun to examine a field of study, called "captology", in their Persuasive Technology Lab, to identify positive persuasive technologies in the areas of health, business safety and education. From the Stanford University Web site, here is a captology diagram:











Stanford hosts the Second International Conference on Persuasion Technology in April 2007 and you can find more information about it at http://www.persuasivetechnology.org.

Related items:

http://www.ravewireless.com
http://mopocket.com
http://captology.stanford.edu
http://www.persuasivetechnology.org
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3729247841790634072
http://www.persuasivetechnology.com
http://www.bjfogg.com/index.html
http://www.captologytv.com

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Media in Italy


Roberto Spiezio, citizen journalst from Italy, is interviewed about his entry into the world of journalism.

After my interview with Mr. Spiezio in South Korea, we corresponded by email and he was kind enough to offer more information about politics and media in his home country of Italy.

LP:
Thank you in advance for your perspectives on life in Italy, Roberto. First, let me ask, how does Italy view immigration?

RS: This is a really sensitive issue and one of the usual battlefields for the political parties. The left wing has a policy of aperture about immigration, because of ideological matters and because immigrants are a good source of political consensus.

At the moment the government (left wing) has given many immigrants a resident status, as long as they have a regular job. In the past few years the right wing government had cracked down on immigration, by making the entrance and the staying in Italy a lot more difficult. As example, a Korean friend of mine came to visit me 2 years ago, and the army stopped her and told her if she didn't notify her presence -even as a tourist- within 7 days with the authorities, she could have been immediately expelled and banned from the country for 5 years - and she was just a tourist!

In Italy immigrants don't have the right to vote, even if they are permanent residents, whereas relatives of native Italians abroad, even if they are not Italian citizens, do have it.

This is one of the points the present government is going to address, along with the problem of the legal status of the 2nd and next generations of immigrants, citizens by birth or not.

Finally, the enterprise world in Italy is demanding more immigrants, because the economy needs it, and this affects the choices of the government in a decisive fashion often times.

LP: What is mobile phone use like in Italy?

RS: In Italy mobile phones are really widespread. Many Italians have more than one, and even elementary school kids tend to have it. Born as a status symbol, now it's more a common consumer device, like the TV or the radio. The most widespread technology is GSM, an European standard not compatible with Eastern Asian one (CDMA 2000) but UMTS (a standard introduced for multimedia streaming) is gaining consensus, since it allows people to make video calls and watch TV, while browsing the Internet at broadband speed, but the service doesn't cover the whole territory yet, we are far from reaching a 100% covering actually.

Recently Italy has been witnessing a springing up of services connected to the use of the mobile phones, especially silly subscriptions services (love compatibility and stuff) and it has been also introduced the TV service. Sky Italia is on the frontline in this new development.

The market seems to have reached its saturation since there are a number of mobile providers that have not changed for years now.

LP: What can you tell me about RAI?

RS:
RAI TV is not exactly a private enterprise. As a state television, it has a character of public service, like PBS in America and it's divided into a number of companies that have a specific area of the industry to take care of, from advertising to new media.

Rai receives public funding, especially through subscription fees paid by the viewers. An anomaly is that this fee is conceived as a government tax on the possession of the TV set, so everyone is supposed to pay it, even if doesn't watch the channels. The management is appointed by a parliamentary commission, so there is a heavy political control as to how the company is run.

There are plans and petitions to exclude this pervasive political control over the service, and a real privatization is, as far as I know, not favorably welcomed by many, since the original character of public service would be "betrayed."

The overall quality of this network is good, apart from a questionable tendency to multiply quiz shows and "reality shows" like big brother and others, in that there are several competent journalists, and the offer is quite wide, even if some of the most interesting channels can be viewed only via satellite or in the new digital terrestrial platform. But in my opinion, just because of the political control over the management, a complete independence can't be assured. This is particularly evident in the news branch of the network.

LP: And how about SKY Italia?

RS: This is quite an interesting problem. Sky Italia is the only satellite provider in Italy, after the debacle of Telepiu and Stream. Its offer is wide and overall good quality in my opinion, even if too expensive for the average viewer. Nowadays SKY is under the spotlight because of the big soccer scandal ongoing, and the problem of the game transmission rights (collectively contracted or team by team). In Italy many don't see SKY as a positive reality, since it has a monopoly in its particular branch of the media.

LP: What about globalization or “delocalizzazione”?

RS: This is a relatively recent and controversial issue in Italy. It's recent because we "woke up" to comparing with other countries, and started facing the problem when other countries already were actuating their own solutions. It's controversial because the economy in Italy is not as good as before, the cost of living and for energy has risen dramatically over the past few years, and de-localization unavoidably brings job decreases and desperation in many people made redundant.

In my area there are the major eyewear companies in the world, producing glasses for the most important brands, including Ray-Ban and Prada. Some of them have started a delocalization project, and the main destination is China.

The pros of such a kind of phenomenon can be seen only for the enterprises in my opinion, in that they can reduce costs while gaining higher profit. I still have doubts about the quality of the products made in China, though. Cons regarding job descreases, and all the social problems related to that, including destroying entire communities that were totally built around a single factory in many cases.

LP: How do the quasi poveri connect and use the Internet, as well as get their news? Do they trust the large media companies? If not, then who?

RS: The Digital Divide in Italy is still a grave and serious problem. While we are supposed to be an "advanced country" there are still many towns and villages without broadband connection. Some organizations are trying to propose a project to adopt a policy for bringing the broadband virtually everywhere. The real matter is not the access to the internet by quasi poveri, but the access to the internet and its diffusion as well as the creation of an "internet culture" as a whole.

Some enterprises have introduced Wi-Fi in rural areas or villages not covered by the wired broadband connection.

The de facto monopolistic situation of Italian telephony, whereby one company owns all the infrastructure and forces the other providers to abide by the rules and the prices imposed by it, has created a really difficult situation: the prices for a flat internet connection are comparatively higher than in other European countries, and the quality is nearly always unsatisfactory.

The access to news is mostly traditional: TV, newspapers and then radio. People are divided about trusting mainstream media. As I perceive it, while the majority still relies on them, especially the well-established media, such as Corriere Della Sera and Republica, the most important newspapers in Italy, there are many people more and more dissatisfied with them, in search of something better. Proof is in the springing up of "counter information" and alternative information websites. Their quality is not always good, because there seems not to be any form of editorial control, and anyway they are regarded as niche realities that have nothing to do with the "serious" and "official" media.

My perception is that as long as a publication can pose itself as a credible and authoritative alternative to the mainstream media, it can break in and become a point of reference.

Related items:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0482633/
http://www.cjr.org/issues/2006/5/Stille.asp
http://www.vivazapatero.co.uk/

Monday, February 26, 2007

Why don't we pay for connectivity in rural communities?

The Tech Policy Summit in Silicon Valley begins today examining the individual, corporate and government influence and responsibility in establishing policies online.

Walt Mossberg currently interviewing James Cicconi asks "Why does the United States suck at bandwidth?" This question, taking a look at the availability, variety and quality of connectivity.

Cicconi responds that some of the problem will be helped when competition increases speed. When asked by a member of the audience whether AT&T might charge those in densely populated area more, in order to support connectivity into rural areas, Cicconi said that "Regulators frown upon this".

I would like to know why. Is it because they (we, as consumers, and subsequently carriers) fear customer attrition? Where does the responsibility fall, to the individual, the carriers, the FCC or legislators in Washington DC (who, mentioned this morning by U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Howard Berman, are still catching up on the technology curve.)?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nanotechnology research

Dr. Robert Sinclair was honored with a symposium at Stanford University last week, to celebrate thirty years in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the university. The list of symposium speakers, comprised mainly of former students, demonstrates the impact that Professor Sinclair has had on the field of electron microscopy:

James Wittig – Vanderbilt University
Gary Michal – Case Western Reserve
Mary Kay Hibbs-Brenner – VIXAR
Fernando Ponce – Arizona State University
Alan Pelton – NDCUS
Velimir Radmilovic – National Center for Electron Microscopy
Martha Mecartney – University of California Irvine
Edward Goo – University of Southern California
Tom Yamashita – Komag
Alan Schwartzman – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Warren MoberlyChan – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Thomas Nolan – Seagate Technology
Gerardo Bertero – Komag
Toyohiko Konno – Tohoku University
Subhash Shinde – Sandia National Laboratory
Brian Morfitt – Frazier Heath Care
Katherine Walker – Blum Capital Partners
Peter Rigby – Royal Cancer Hospital

As the department detailed, Professor Sinclair's students have gone on to use electron microscopy for development of structure-property relationships at major universities, both national and international, as well as in industrial research laboratories.

My interview with him a few months ago dicussed nanotechnology research. That discussion, is posted here in (audio) .mp3 and available below.

LP: Dr. Sinclair, what do you see as some of the challenges or barriers to nanotechnology development?

RS: I think that the government agencies have been very good at sponsoring very innovative, kind of groundbreaking research at the universities.

LP: I am sure Stanford feels that way, in particular?

RS: And the competitive universities like Berkeley and MIT and so on. But it is necessary to make sure that that funding is at a consistent level so that young professors can express their ideas and bring them to fruition rather than having to be cautious because the funding may only last a certain amount of time, before they all achieve their goals.

LP: Right, they have to be selective about the approach that they use and the testing that they might do -- things that are not going to better help them and grow of their research.

RS: I think we want to encourage the universities, in particular, to be as innovative as possible so that they come up with the ideas which then could be commercialized either by the faculty and the student setting up a small company themselves or a larger company taking all that responsibility to bring it into a commercial product. And another aspect which is of real concern happens to involve the equipment that it takes through to do this research. This equipment is becoming increasingly expensive.

LP: I imagine so.

RS: And what one finds is that the equipment particularly at the universities now is aging and is no longer state of the art, and it becomes quite expensive to buy a new piece of equipment like electron microscopes or electron beam writers which are the current best pieces of equipment available.

LP: I imagine the eBay auction cycle for those items is a little longer too.

RS: Right, eBay has a very specialized piece of equipment which one could only obtain from very highest quality manufacturers. And for some pieces of equipment, there is indeed no government mechanism now whereby the universities can obtain this equipment because their cost is a little bit too high compared to the one thing which is available. And this is becoming very national problem. Other countries have adopted a government run policy whereby they will equip some laboratories in the country to a very high level, particularly the European countries and Japan, so that they have this new piece of equipments.

LP: Do you think there is an opportunity for Japan or other Asian countries to supply American universities with up-to-date equipment?

RS: I think it's the other way around. I think that the manufacturers will provide equipment in their own countries to increase their competitiveness at the cost of American competitiveness. So this is regarded as a national problem. A study for the National Academy Sciences which we have just completed reports on this and recommends that regional centers be set up whereby researches from different institutions can share equipment, which is so expensive and which is so powerful. But unless we act soon, then the universities, in particular, will find themselves in a long competitive situation with their equivalent institutions in other countries.

LP: Who do you see as the strongest threats in these areas in the academic world right now?

RS: Well, certainly from the investments which have been made in Japan, institutions tend to be very well equipped. And Germany is making significance investment in its research infrastructure. China gradually is establishing more and more like high quality research centers, and of course the other top European countries and even the smaller countries besides Britain and France but also Belgium, Holland, Sweden and so on.

LP: But like many innovations, does the competition between countries affect progress of that technology, do you think?

RS: Definitely because science really is an international endeavor and scientists in United States are competing against each other and themselves and also with their equivalents in other countries. And that's one of the interesting things about science that international competition is recognized and is a powerful force to develop better devices.

LP: So, it's actually a positive component?

RS: If we view the competition as positive, which I think it is, within the department of technology and international competition.

LP: And we are relying on the individual integrity of people in that way.

RS: We need to rely on the individual integrity, and of course there was a very recent severe case in South Korea where it was not carried out which is very regrettable. There was the stem cell research which, the South Korean researchers were doing, the stem cell alliance but it replicated.

LP: That's interesting. What do you think, are there credible and significantly followed organizations on the international level for nanotechnology research also?

RS: I think you'll find that there is a lot of international collaboration as well as research which is carried out in an individual country, and there are many scientific conferences and scientific organizations which are international which promote that, and which I would say most scientists and technologists take advantage of. We tend to travel to other countries and to meet scientists and to discuss our data with them and find out about their data as well. So I think that international scientific communities are very healthy because they are recognized as competitive and today it's running out, I think, in a very fashion.

LP: Is working at Stanford all serious science, do you have any fun over there?

RS: Well, Stanford is a very special place. The students are very hardworking and very talented. And there is quite a different nature to the graduate students who are trying to obtain professional degree, PhD or Master of Science for instance, compared to the undergraduate students who tend to be young, of course, but also to have very many different interests besides their field of study.

LP: I know at least two Stanford drop-outs who finished a year here in and went on to build technology companies here in the valley who I worked for, for a short time, so I have seen a little bit of that around.

RS: Stanford drop-outs are the same quality as Stanford drop-ins, I talk to them.

LP: Yes they are very talented, absolutely. What other areas do we see nanotechnology?

RS: Well, I talked about the exciting research which has been carried out at the universities but also the American system has a very strong component of the national laboratories and they are making their own contributions through professional scientists. And then, of course, there is the entrepreneurial spirit in America whereby small companies are as well in pathological Nanosys, for instance. We're just trying to commercialize to do some neat and cool nanotechnology products.

LP: Where else do we see nanotechnology popping up?

RS: Well, one of the aspects which perhaps you don't know is that suntan lotion or sunscreen and the very small nanoparticles that give them color or blocking ability so they are in some products we make everyday. Nanotechnology is already present.

Dr. Sinclair is a highly graceful individual, calm yet opinionated, slightly skeptical and highly regarded by his students and colleagues. I can understand the inspiration he has contributed to his field. For a listen, go here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Cost of Security

From the RSA Conference in San Francisco, CA, Chief Security Executive, Greg Hughes, discusses how fraudulent criminals go about stealing your identity and the value of Corillian’s products. Coincidentally, just after the interview I learned that Corillian was purchased by CheckFree for $254M. From the press release, today:

"Corillian and CheckFree have the potential to accelerate the delivery of future generations of online banking technologies for the industry," said Alex Hart, Corillian President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our organizations and cultures are similar in our mutual commitment to deliver high-value solutions that are flexible, scalable and secure to enhance the financial services websites for our customers and their end users."

Corillian supports more than 30 of the top 100 U.S. banks and 21 of the top 100 U.S. credit unions with its online financial services strategy. CheckFree processes more than one billion transactions annually and distributes more than 18 million e-bills per month through more than 2,000 financial services sites.

Monday, February 12, 2007

What is the ITU anyway?

In December 2006, the International Telecommunications Union held its conference in bustling Hong Kong, China. Jeff Schwartz of Disruptive Strategies sat down with long-time organizers of the event, Neustar Managing Director Reza Jafari and CTO Mark Foster, to learn about the event and its purpose.