Bing vs Google, the quiet semantic war

On Wednesday night I had dinner at a burger joint with four old friends; two work in the intelligence community today on top-secret programs, and two others are technologists in the private sector who have done IC work for years. The five of us share a particular interest besides good burgers: semantic technology.

Oh, we talked about mobile phones (iPhones were whipped out as was my Windows Phone, and apps debated) and cloud storage (they were stunned that Microsoft gives 25 gigabytes of free cloud storage with free Skydrive accounts, compared to the puny 2 gig they’d been using on DropBox).

But we kept returning to semantic web discussions, semantic approaches, semantic software. One of these guys goes back to the DAML days of DARPA fame, the guys on the government side are using semantic software operationally, and we all are firm believers in Our Glorious Semantic Future.

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Swap Panetta and Blair: A Modest Proposal

First, a quick story from when I was working in government.

Not long after the initial establishment of a “Director of National Intelligence,” the DNI CIO held an inaugural “DNI Information Sharing Conference” in Denver in the summer of 2006. I was asked to sit on a panel about “Innovation across the Intelligence Community,” representing the Defense Intelligence Agency and sharing the stage with two counterparts, from the CIA and NSA.  Our panel chair was Mr. CJ Chapla, then the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the old Intelink Management Office, redubbed “Intelligence Community Enterprise Services,” an office now under the Office of the DNI (ODNI). CJ asked the three of us to describe briefly the goals and projects we were each working on, and in seriatim that’s what we did for 90 minutes or so.

When it was time for questions, the very first audience-member asked: “It seems that each of you are independently working on, and paying for, very similar kinds of technology projects. It would make sense to combine or rationalize the work, so why are you continuing to do it independently?” Continue reading

March of progress with human consequences

Fact: Today Cisco announced a new program with “learning solutions partners” to support China’s growing IT infrastructure by “Nurturing Talent in More Than 100 Training Centers Across 31 Cities in China” (Cisco Launches Talent Development Strategy for China“)

Analysis: One day last week an enterprising handyman in my little town of Montross, Virginia spied a large sinkhole in the long driveway leading up to our house. He offered to my wife that he’d fill and level the hole for $20.  Sold! Continue reading

San Francisco’s Wild and Wacky World of Technology

Fact: San Francisco’s municipal IT continues to self-destruct, according to new reports this weekend.  According to an IDG story (San Francisco hunts for mystery device on city network), “With costs related to a rogue network administrator’s hijacking of the city’s network now estimated at $1 million, city officials say they are searching for a mysterious networking device hidden somewhere on the network. The device, referred to as a terminal server in court documents, appears to be a router that was installed to provide remote access to the city’s Fiber WAN network, which connects municipal computer and telecommunication systems throughout the city. City officials haven’t been able to log in to the device, however, because they do not have the username and password. In fact, the city’s Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) isn’t even certain where the device is located, court filings state.”

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Early Bill Gates, and Bill’s Last Email

From Bill Gates’s final email today to “All at Microsoft”:

 

As Microsoft has grown, one of the most exciting and fulfilling things for me has been to watch new leaders develop. I am thrilled to have Ray and Craig playing key roles in guiding the company’s strategy… For over a decade I had hoped that we could convince Ray to join Microsoft — and in the three years he has been here, he has made a huge difference in helping us focus on the challenge and opportunity of software plus services. I have worked with Craig for more than 15 years. His ability to anticipate the future direction of technology is a key asset, as is his deep interest in and understanding of emerging markets.

Of course, I’ll continue to be involved in the work of the company as part-time Chairman. As part of this I will help with a handful of projects that Steve, Ray, and Craig select.”  

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Punk Rock & Moore’s Law

Fact: Intel’s CEO says “We have new processors that have 250 million more transistors, and yet are 25 percent smaller than today’s version and don’t require more electricity to run.” (Interview published 2/1/2008 )

Analysis: Moore’s Law: immortal, or destined to be broken?  Punk Rock: dead, or in revival?  And why were Johnny Rotten and one of the legendary Traitorous Eight in the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose on the same night back in 1989?

Once-and-future Sex Pistol John Lydon (Rotten) was there after playing a gig up the road, and I happened upon him in the bar, where he proceeded to buy round after round of Heinekens for me, him, and his roadies. He latched onto me because he wanted to talk about American politics, and to his delight I reminded him of some caustic things (surprise) he had had to say over the years about politicians like Reagan and Carter. That just got him started, and we wound up laughing pretty drunkenly into the night in the Fairmont’s swanky lobby bar.

But earlier that evening, I had shown up at the hotel with friends to attend the Silicon Valley Business Hall of Fame dinner, where Bob Noyce, co-founder of Intel, was being honored along with others….

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