mm395: Blast from the Past! No. 24

May 29, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Still fighting to restore some normal computation to Casa Mudge. Meanwhile, we needs must blog daily.

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

lhc250x46_thumb2

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last summer, originally posted September 6, 2007, and originally titled “Our intangible riches”.

MUDGE’S Musings

Submitted in the spirit of: MUDGE takes well written good ideas where he finds them. And riffs from there. Hang on!

Oil, soil, copper, and forests are forms of wealth. So are factories, houses, and roads. reasononline_thumb4 But according to a 2005 study by the World Bank, such solid goods amount to only about 20 percent of the wealth of rich nations and 40 percent of the wealth of poor countries.

So what accounts for the majority? World Bank environmental economist Kirk Hamilton and his team in the bank’s environment department have found that most of humanity’s wealth isn’t made of physical stuff. It is intangible. In their extraordinary but vastly underappreciated report, Where Is The Wealth Of Nations?: Measuring Capital for the 21st Century, Hamilton’s team found that “human capital and the value of institutions (as measured by rule of law) constitute the largest share of wealth in virtually all countries.”

The World Bank study defines natural capital as the sum of cropland, pastureland, forested areas, protected areas, and nonrenewable resources (including oil, natural gas, coal, and minerals). Produced capital is what most of us think of when we think of capital: machinery, equipment, structures (including infrastructure), and urban land. But that still left a lot of wealth to explain. “As soon as you say the issue is the wealth of nations and how wealth is managed, then you realize that if you were only talking about a portfolio of natural assets, if you were only talking about produced capital and natural assets, you’re missing a big chunk of the story,” Hamilton explains.

Intangible capital accounts for 77 percent of the wealth of nations!

Read the rest of this entry »

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mm386: Your Boomer brain: older just might be better

May 20, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

It’s definitely a trend: as we Boomers age, we find our contemporaries in publishing responding by exposing us to more and more research conducted by our contemporaries in medicine and science regarding the Boomers’ new topic A: Aging.

The oldest of us in the first cohort of that giant bulge in the demographic boa constrictor is 62 years of age in 2008, and for the first time eligible for reduced social security retirement benefits. Suddenly, that far off distant time, old age, is approaching with uncomfortable alacrity, and self-absorbed as we’ve always been, stories on elder health have become more frequent as they’ve become more germane.

Without hardly searching, we found three such stories regarding aging brains and how they work this month alone.

Brain story no. 1. Exercise!

nytimes

Exercise Your Brain, or Else You’ll … Uh …

Technology | By KATIE HAFNER | Published: May 3, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — When David Bunnell, a magazine publisher who lives in Berkeley, Calif., went to a FedEx store to send a package a few years ago, he suddenly drew a blank as he was filling out the forms.

“I couldn’t remember my address,” said Mr. Bunnell, 60, with a measure of horror in his voice. “I knew where I lived, and I knew how to get there, but I didn’t know what the address was.”

Read the rest of this entry »


mm222: Social networks — Encyclopedic, Careeric, Blogic

December 14, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s all about making connections, here at Left-Handed Complement. Once again, several threads have appeared from different directions, just in time to create the fabric of post no. 222.

Encyclopedic

First, two entries noted Google’s new contender for encyclopedia of choice, Knol, challenging Wikipedia. The straight story from, where else, NYTimes:

google

Google Develops Wikipedia Rival

By JEREMY KIRK, IDG News Service\London Bureau, IDG

Google is developing an online publishing platform where people can write entries on subjects they know, an idea that’s close to Wikipedia’s user-contributed encyclopedia but with key differences.

The project, which is in an invitation-only beta stage, lets users create clean-looking Web pages with their photo and write entries on, for example, insomnia. Those entries are called “knols” for “unit of knowledge,” Google said.

Google wants the knols to develop into a deep repository of knowledge, covering topics such as geography, history and entertainment.

The target of this new community is not only Wikipedia, but also Yahoo “Answers.” And they’ve coined new nomenclature (don’t you just love the English language?), “knols.”

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Google Develops Wikipedia Rival – New York Times

Poking around some of our usual suspects, i.e., our blogroll2 , Machinist blog at Salon.com weighed in on Google’s new adventure with some useful analysis. Does the world need another encyclopedia? The folks behind Squidoo and Mahalo think so in their own unique ways (if less scholarly, in this observer’s opinion), and now so does the web’s 8,000,000-lb. gorilla.

Truthiness showdown: Google’s “Knol” vs. Wikipedia

Having just written a book about how digital technology is changing cultural ideas about truth — shameless plug: to be released mid-March from Wiley; pre-order here — I’m fascinated by Google’s announcement, late yesterday, of a Wikipedia-like application called Knol.

Knol’s goal, writes Udi Manber, Google’s engineering chief, in a blog post, is “to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it.” The system, which is currently running in an invitation-only beta, offers free Web hosting space and editing tools to allow anyone to write up a page about whatever they like. Google is calling each article a “knol,” which it says stands for a “unit of knowledge.”

Experts contributing knols will not be anonymous, or aggregated, says Machinist’s Farhad Manjoo, but rather will contribute separately and openly to create what Google hopes will become collective knowledge, and perhaps, maybe, wisdom, the pinnacle of the knowledge pyramid (anyone still care about knowledge management? data, information, knowledge, wisdom).

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Machinist: Tech Blog, Tech News, Technology Articles – Salon

And of course, Google will sell and place advertising, to be shared with the article authors.

Imagine advertising in the margins of the 30 printed volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Well that’s why Larry Page and Sergey Brin are $zillionaires, and yr (justifiably) humble svt is so humble…

Careeric*

(*New coinage!) Several posts ago, while noting Facebook’s stumble over its intrusive Beacon privacy-blasting tool, we mentioned LinkedIn in passing, as a site we (still very much in the world of Web 0.79, much less 2.0!) participate in rather desultorily.

I’ve got 41 people in my network, which LinkedIn tells me expands to “41,700+” (their friends — astounding!) and “2,563,400+” for their friends (science fiction).

MUDGE doesn’t know if he wants to know that many people.

But, besides accreting millions of supposed contacts, what is one supposed to do at LinkedIn. David Kirkpatrick, senior editor at Fortune magazine, tells us he was in precisely the same boat (of course, MUDGE likes to think of himself as extraordinarily unusual, so for senior editors to have had similar feelings makes one uneasy!):

linkedin

Why you’ll finally use LinkedIn

The buttoned-down social network has a new CEO, a growing membership, and an increasingly-useful set of features.

By David Kirkpatrick, senior editor

NEW YORK (Fortune) — For years, I’ve been befuddled by LinkedIn. I knew it was supposed to be the social network for work, but to me it was like war. “What is it good for?” I asked myself repeatedly, even as I occasionally poked around and accepted requests to link with people. I belonged to it, but I really didn’t know why.

The other day I had a chance to sit down with LinkedIn CEO Dan Nye, who’s been on the job since February. He told me about a few changes that Linkedin subsequently announced (VentureBeat has a good description of them.). And his PR person upgraded me to what would otherwise be a paid account. (It can be $20 to $200 per month.)

Who knew that LinkedIn charged anything? I’ve been a member for more than five years, and have never been solicited, until tonight when I poked around a bit after reading Kirkpatrick’s story, and the link to VentureBeat clipped above. LinkedIn is getting more ambitious about its available tools, as you’ll see.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Why you’ll finally use LinkedIn – Dec. 14, 2007

Most intriguing. But here’s a concern:

(Nye recited the depressing figure that only 30 percent of LinkedIn’s members have read any business magazine in the last 30 days.)

Hey, LinkedIn, I’m picking up the slack on that one, with my subscriptions and devotional readership of Business Week and the best magazine on the planet, The Economist!

But if only 30% of those 2,563,400+ third degrees in MUDGE‘s network read business magazines, one has to be concerned about how useful the 70% business illiterates of them might be when the day comes that I am expelled from HCA (the Heart of Corporate America, not its real name, as constant reader will recall) and I have to network for real. Down to a mere 769,020 viable networkers. Not nearly enough to find viable employment for this overaged supernumerary.

Sigh.

Blogic**

(**More new coinage, from the fertile tidal pool of MUDGEdom.) This third leg of today’s tripod has to do with the social network of bloggers, who gather under that extraordinary circus tent called WordPress.

I can’t be complimentary enough about WordPress. The first-ranked member of MUDGE‘s Blogging Process Hall of Fame©, as unveiled here, and anointed here, WordPress has been a resourceful and supportive, and most breathtakingly cost effective blogging host.

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has been hosted there from absolute day one; in fact, it was mention of its free site (where? at Lifehacker?) that provided the spark that, several months later, burst into this vigorous flame of daily commentary.

This week Anne Zelenka, writing in the always useful GigaOm, presented her observation that WordPress is not merely a host for nearly 2,000,000 blogs (!), but a social network in and of itself.

wordpress1

The Next Social Network: WordPress

Anne Zelenka, Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 3:45 PM PT

Could open-source blogging platform WordPress serve as your next social networking profile? Chris Messina, co-founder of Citizen Agency, thinks so. He’s started a project called DiSo, for distributed social networking, that aims to “build a social network with its skin inside out.” DiSo will first look to WordPress as its foundation.

This could be the next step towards the unified social graph that some technologists wish for. WordPress suits the purpose because it provides a person-centric way of coming online, offers an extensible architecture, and already has some features — such as an OpenID and a blogroll plugin — that can be pressed into social networking service. And its users represent exactly the sort of audience that might appreciate the permanent, relatively public identity that DiSo aims to offer.

The contrast is with the MySpace and Facebook paradigm. Zelenka argues that those sites provide a space for one online, but it’s not one’s own space. Not “person-centric.”

Clark was responding to an ongoing conversation launched by blogger and cartoonist Hugh MacLeod, who proposed that blogging is far more important to him than social networking. Bloggers including Stowe Boyd and Darren Rowse seconded the idea. This growing disenchantment with social networking and return to blogging suggests that in the future we could see a migration, at least among tech bloggers, towards more distributed social networking — along the lines of what Messina envisions.

This is all rather esoteric, but interesting all the same.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Next Social Network: WordPress – GigaOM

As we’ve discussed above, and before, this writer came to the creative end of the web quite late. While for many years a consumer, only in the past seven months have I been a content creator. Never was tempted by MySpace (we’ll let MUDGElet No. 3 enjoy his age appropriate time there); only a bit tempted by Facebook (as discussed previously); and the jury is still out on the value to me of LinkedIn; but I feel I’ve found a home (lonely as it is, but she always has told me that it’s quality not quantity that matters) here at WordPress, among 2,000,000 fellow bloggers.

Maybe Chris Messina of DiSo is on to something.

So, there’s our tripod of social networking. Encyclopedic, careeric, blogic. An icky stretch, right?

Google’s Knol, LinkedIn and WordPress. Hope it came together for you, the way it did for me.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm130: Our Intangible Riches

September 6, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Submitted in the spirit of: MUDGE takes well written good ideas where he finds them. And riffs from there. Hang on!

Oil, soil, copper, and forests are forms of wealth. So are factories, houses, and roads. reasononline But according to a 2005 study by the World Bank, such solid goods amount to only about 20 percent of the wealth of rich nations and 40 percent of the wealth of poor countries.

So what accounts for the majority? World Bank environmental economist Kirk Hamilton and his team in the bank’s environment department have found that most of humanity’s wealth isn’t made of physical stuff. It is intangible. In their extraordinary but vastly underappreciated report, Where Is The Wealth Of Nations?: Measuring Capital for the 21st Century, Hamilton’s team found that “human capital and the value of institutions (as measured by rule of law) constitute the largest share of wealth in virtually all countries.”

The World Bank study defines natural capital as the sum of cropland, pastureland, forested areas, protected areas, and nonrenewable resources (including oil, natural gas, coal, and minerals). Produced capital is what most of us think of when we think of capital: machinery, equipment, structures (including infrastructure), and urban land. But that still left a lot of wealth to explain. “As soon as you say the issue is the wealth of nations and how wealth is managed, then you realize that if you were only talking about a portfolio of natural assets, if you were only talking about produced capital and natural assets, you’re missing a big chunk of the story,” Hamilton explains.

Intangible capital accounts for 77 percent of the wealth of nations!

Not what one would expect is it? We think of capital as natural resources, or manufactured products. But human labor, knowledge and social institutions comprise 3/4 of all of the wealth of the world. Striking, isn’t it?

The rest of the story goes off in a somewhat different (geopolitical) direction than I want to take this concept (Reason being whom they are), but feel free to read the interesting interview:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Reason Magazine – Our Intangible Riches

I’m going to place this in a corporate context, for after all, MUDGE is this latter day convert to corporate life.

Years ago, attended a conference discussing the then new and hot topic: Knowledge Management. The consultants running the event, we’ll call them members of the class: wizards of all that is new and hot, tossed out a stunning statistic at us: 80% of the value of a corporation walks out the door every evening at 5pm, hopefully (as far as the stockholders are concerned) to return the next morning at 9am. 80%. It’s the people, of course. Bricks, mortar, research and manufacturing hardware, unending banks of air cooled servers humming away in the bunkers: 20%.

Flesh and blood: 80%. Or, have it World Bank’s updated way (it’s been 10 years, after all, and their wizards are undoubtedly newer and hotter) and call it 77%.

I dare say, though, that it takes a particularly forward thinking set of corporate leaders to truly own that statistic in any meaningful way. And MUDGE doesn’t consider management forward thinking if the extent of its reflection in that sphere is hiring those “wizard” consultants. Nope, those new and hot guys will be onto the next new and hot concept before the gig is over.

Leaving management remaining ready willing and able to discount the value of its flesh and blood assets by, let’s figure, 75%.

Yes, I’m thinking that if you held a typical CEO’s hand in the fire and said, “All right you (more than likely unqualifiedly) outrageously wealthy captain of industry, what percentage of value of your organization is its human capital?” do you honestly believe that she’d [we’ll be PC today, defying the statistics, I’m afraid] apply a value of more than 25%?

I think not. The evidence is all around you.

And I mean this literally.

Walk down your block any weekday morning. Take a look at the number of cars in driveways. All those people operating from their home offices? Some of course are fortunate as MUDGE often is, working from home for a corporate giant.

But increasing numbers are what we should call CDPs, corporate displaced persons, refugees from the Corporate Bulimia© that cheerfully spews out that human capital as readily as people deal with slightly too elderly seafood.

So, our CDPs, of an age that for considerations such as health insurance costs makes them unattractive as new hires elsewhere, set up shop in their dens as “consultants” themselves. Only these aren’t the McKinsey style wizards of all that is new and hot — these are the gals and guys who know how to analyze market trends to predict supply chain requirements in sufficient time, or who know how to write (and better yet fix) COBOL programs, or know the transportation industry from railhead to 40,000 feet cruising altitude.

In short, this is human capital. Rehired at consultants rates, and finally valued as a result.

Captains of Industry! You could have had these guys for a song — you did have these guys for a song, and at the first blip in oil prices, or at the burst of the first Internet bubble, or lately, the disquieting rumblings of financial uncertainty due to the mortgage derivative crisis, you cast them out.

Or, in the direst twist of all, their jobs are surplus, because you’ve found the folks in Galway or Bengaluru or Manila who will do what they promise is the same work for 70% cheaper.

And when times seem better, you’ll hire again (corporate bulimia don’t ya know — should I copyright that term? Corporate Bulimia©), although the good ones you laid off will be long gone, and you’ll happily hire the inexperienced (but health insurance wise, golden) and empty young to fill the ranks.

How long before you figure out that the World Bank has it right? That the accumulated institutional knowledge that you blithely lay off (yeah, right size) or outsource because you value it so cheaply is the engine driving your success?

Some of our CDPs drop out of corporate life altogether, and corporations are the poorer for it. Perhaps they accumulated or salvaged some capital of their own before they were evicted from their offices and cubicles.

These are the ones you might find owners of (i.e., cooking, scrubbing toilets, entertaining strangers) that charming new bed and breakfast near the town center that they poured so much sweat equity into, working the same killer hours or more, but now at least with a boss who appreciates those efforts, themselves.

Great place to stay next time you’re in town. A terrible waste of 25 years of hard-earned, hard-learned experience, i.e., human capital.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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