How I Use Tech and Media during the Pandemic

My friend and longtime colleague (back to ancient days in a leading intelligence agency) Bob Gourley now leads CTOvision and a consulting firm OODA LLC, and is widely known as a leading global voice on tech trends. He recently launched a video/podcast series “OODAcast” to fill our days and nights with commentary on “Hot Topics in Enterprise IT and Business Risk,” and I was flattered to be asked to participate.

Here’s the video of Part I of our conversation (there’s a second half forthcoming). But if you don’t want to suffer through a half-hour of me bloviating, below I have provided a few excerpts and annotations on topics I mention, so you can skim below instead ūüôā

 

4:20 – We begin with the role of technology in government and public policy, including today’s COVID-19 crisis and back in the early atomic era (referencing Einstein and Oppenheimer)

From 6:20 – Discussion of how to deal with information overload amid the COVID-19. I discuss maximizing “the positive side” of easy access to enormous data via the Internet: “there continue to be what fully existed before the Internet era, and that is a wealth of trusted, branded, curated sources of edited news. I have a lot of respect for the role of editor… the smartest person on campus was the editor of that paper, and he corrected a lot of mistakes that I made.” That editor of The Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia whom I refer to was Woody Holton, who predictably went on to become a highly regarded historian and writer.

At 9:00 – I mention being the sole home-delivery subscriber to the print-edition New York Times in my rural Essex County, Virginia, along with contrasts of online news sources and social media sources. (I should mention here that working from home for me has always been easy, in part because my company VMware has been enabling virtual remote-work long before the pandemic.)

10:45 – I discuss the comparison of two versions, online and print, of a NY Times information visualization of the origins and spread of the novel coronavirus in 2019-2020. The online version is here, while below are some clips of the print version, on the front page and across two interior double-page-spreads:

NYTcoronavirusspread1NYTcoronavirusspreadInterior

13:40 – I refer to the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), and its “COVID-19 and AI, A Virtual Conference,” which is described and video-archived here.  I’ll also recommend from ACM, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, its new comprehensive guide “to conference organizers suddenly facing the need to move their conference online in light of the social distancing recommendations and global restrictions on travel.”

15:40 – I describe my use of curated Twitter Lists. At Bob’s urging, I have opened up several of my curated “private” lists (see below for links to follow them, but I’ve kept my best and most exotic Lists locked for now):

18:35 – Discussion of using LinkedIn for “authentication and validation of who’s posting what you’re looking at… you wind up becoming as nimble as an HR professional at assessing the credibility of people based on their track record, background and online resume… Especially in this period where everybody’s working remotely I notice that the volume of posting on LinkedIn has really grown.”

Your comments on the discussion are welcome below, and stay tuned for Part II….

 

 

 

Slow-Live-blogging #NASASocial for CRS7 Launch

093FB4EE629C000080400003-attachment-1-FOTBF8

I was really giddy at being selected by NASA to participate in the agency’s innovative “NASA Social” program, where social-media personalities are credentialed and allowed to cover NASA rocket launches. Launch is scheduled for Sunday June 28 at 10:21 AM EDT – fingers crossed for good weather :).

I’ll be updating every couple hours or so¬†over the weekend, and will definitely take good advantage of the tweets and photos of my colleague attendees (with credit of course!). The items follow in chronological order:

Continue reading

Your choice, Dataviz as event or book

A friend wrote asking if I could make it¬†to an event happening this week near DC. I can’t make it, but fortunately he also mentioned as consolation that he has a cool new book on the cusp of release – and I’ve now ordered my copy.

The Friend: legendary visualization and HCI guru Ben Shneiderman (Wikipedia entry). Ben is a computer-science professor at the University of Maryland and the founder of its well-known Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory (HCIL), as well as an ACM Fellow and AAAS Fellow.¬† He has done government a million favors over the years, consulting for agencies, including his recent work on the Recovery.gov site to help that platform of¬†data – from hundreds of thousands of¬†sources – organize, host, and visualize the data for¬†millions of visitors.¬† I first got to know Ben through his support for better intelligence analysis – he helped invent a longtime intelligence analytics tool, Spotfire (see his article “Dynamic queries, starfield¬†displays, and the path to Spotfire“).¬† Ben’s also well-known for his award-winning 2002 book Leonardo’s Laptop: Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies, which I enjoyed and still think about when brainstorming new techie toys.

Continue reading

Free Tools for the New Scientific Revolution

Blogs are great for supplementing real-life events, by giving space and time for specific examples and links which¬†can’t be¬†referenced at the time. I was invited to give a talk last week¬†at the first-ever NASA Information Technology Summit in Washington DC, and the topic I chose was “Government and the Revolution in Scientific Computing.” That’s an area that Microsoft Research has been focusing on quite a bit lately, so below I’ll give some examples I didn’t use at my talk.

One groundrule was that invited private-sector speakers were not allowed to give anything resembling a “sales pitch” of their company’s wares. Fair enough – I’m no salesman.¬† The person who immediately preceded me, keynoter Vint Cerf, slightly bent the rules and talked a bit about his employer Google’s products, but gee whiz, that’s the prerogative of someone who is in large part responsible for the Internet we all use and love today.

I described in my talk the radical new class of super-powerful technologies enabling large-data research and computing on platforms of real-time and archival government data. That revolution is happening now, and I believe government could and should be playing a different and less passive role. I advocated for increased attention to the ongoing predicament of U.S. research and development funding.

Alex Howard at O’Reilly Radar covered the NASA Summit and today published a nice¬†review of both Vint’s talk and mine.¬†¬†Some excerpts: Continue reading

Using the body in new virtual ways

This is CHI 2010 week, the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Atlanta. Top researchers in human-computer-interaction (HCI) are together April 10-15 for presentations, panels, exhibits, and discussions. Partly because of our intense interest in using new levels of computational power to develop great new Natural User Interfaces (NUI), Microsoft Research is well represented at CHI 2010 as pointed out in an MSR note on the conference:

This year, 38 technical papers submitted by Microsoft Research were accepted by the conference, representing 10 percent of the papers accepted. Three of the Microsoft Research papers, covering vastly different topics, won Best Paper awards, and seven others received Best Paper nominations.

Continue reading

Follow the USS Carl Vinson to Haiti

As I write on Wednesday afternoon (EST), the scenes of chaos, death, and destruction in Haiti are only now beginning to be visible to the outside world through media. As horrific and heart-rending as those scenes are, they serve a purpose in letting other nations comprehend the magnitude of the crisis and the urgency required in lending direct aid. The U.S. military is uniquely positioned to contribute.

Flight Deck of the USS Carl Vinson

What a difference a day makes: barely 24 hours ago, several hours before the earthquake struck, the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) was cranking up its nuclear engines and setting a peaceful course out of Hampton Roads at the base of the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. At long last after completing a complex overhaul and new sea trials, she was heading south, to make the South America turn and return to homeport in San Diego as part of the Pacific Fleet.

Continue reading

A-Space Past and Future

This week marks the second anniversary of the first live internal demo of the intelligence community’s A-Space project, groundbreaking for the IC in its goal of collaborative use of social media across agency lines. Somewhere in Maryland, a remarkable government employee and friend named Mike Wertheimer should pause and quietly celebrate the fruition of his early evangelism for it.

I was still a government employee then, but wrote about the effort at the time here on Shepherd’s Pi (“A-Space: Top-secret social¬†networking“). It makes me chuckle to remember back to those days when it was still mostly unheard-of for IC employees to blog openly on the public web about current technology projects. Now you can’t shut ’em up! ūüôā

It made sense, I thought, to set down a few notes at the time for several reasons: Continue reading

Tellme what you want

The future of social computing is in the integration of various services and technologies – but the fun is already available now.¬†Here’s a nifty demo of the integration of cloud computing’s services¬†with increasingly powerful mobile computers (smartphones or netbooks). Developers can take advantage of far more computational power both locally on the device – faster, cheaper processors thanks to Moore’s Law – and computational power residing on networked data centers.¬† Think of a business or social activity, and thanks to platforms like the iPhone, Android, and the new Windows Phones, “There’s an app for that.” Or there soon will be.

This quick little demo feels like nothing fancy today – but ten, even five years ago it would have seemed like sci-fi. In fact it’s available now, and uses¬†a new Windows Phone, in this case a Samsung Intrepid, making use of Tellme software from Microsoft integrated with Bing Search web services.¬†The demo intregrates some¬†longtime technologies in their state-of-the-art condition today using cloud-services delivery:

  • Speech-to-text
  • GPS-enabled location-based services
  • Web search
  • Voice-enabled dialing
  • Social media (crowdsourced ratings integrated in search results)
  • Hardware UI (a dedicated TellMe button on the Samsung Intrepid phone)

Share this post on Twitter

Email this post to a friend

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

How the Crowd Reads Crowd-Sourced News

It turns out that we have lessons to learn from Uganda – more specifically, from web coverage of events in Uganda this week.

I’m constantly trying to improve my own ability to follow real-time world events, whether through social media, advanced search technologies, or aggregation of multiple old/new information technologies. About this time last year, as the Georgian-Russian skirmishes were just kicking off, I wrote about keeping up with information on international events (“Using Web 2.0 to Track a Political¬†Crisis“).

In the intervening year, development of real-time tools and techniques has really blossomed. This past week, the onset of violent political unrest in Uganda has served as yet another crucible in which new techniques and web-based technologies can be tested and tweaked.

Continue reading

Fighting Social Ills with Social Media

This week I’m traveling in Mexico as part of a unique State Department delegation, bringing American social-media professionals together with Mexican public and private efforts working on building civic society. In particular, the trip is focused on bolstering civic participation efforts aimed at countering the enormous spike in narco-violence in Mexico, including the state of Chihuahua, whose capital Ciudad Juarez we visited on Monday and Tuesday.¬† I’m joined on the trip by colleagues from Facebook, Google, AT&T, MIT Media Lab, and several other leading social-media professionals. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: