This post on Library crunch made it into my “Blog this” folder back in February, and I’m finally doing some spring cleaning.
Michael Casey links to some ideas from Richard Macmanus and a whitepaper by Rod Boothby. The basic premise is that the next round of MBA graduates (I’ll be able to count myself in that group in August ’06) know how to work differently. From my perspective, he’s right. My coursework has been completed exclusively through the University of Maryland University College’s online classroom. Almost half of my assignments are collaborative, and another quarter require online conference interaction. We email, we teleconference, we chat. We know how to self organize, chose task leaders, and get things done. And I’ve never met any of my teammates in person. Sometimes we have to work around time zone differences to accommodate teammates who are living or traveling across the world. And all this is just the mechanics. Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat was required reading this semester. We’re coming out reading to fight in a global marketplace, connecting by a myriad of communications links forming a web around us…
But even with all that, we’re behind the curve. As the next decade passes, we have the email generation, the IM generation, the livejournal, generation, the myspace generation, and the second life generation, all entering the workforce. Then a subset of them will get MBA’s, or mature into management roles. These folks are going to fundamentally change the dynamics of business. Robert Scoble touches on this in his recent Moonshot post. The handshake is out, the business trip, phone calls and voicemail are going to fade away. Coming out of high school, many students will have more collaborative skills then most businessmen of decades past.
Looks like my Alma Mater is riding the cutting edge of computing once again. Incoming freshmen are being required to purchase a pretty heavy duty convertible TabletPC. In my four years at Virginia Tech, I took programming classes that required Fortran90, C, Java, and C++. They’re not afraid to evaluate the landscape and make choices that they think will give students an edge coming out. I remember talking to some students that went through a few years before me, and they had to purchase DEC workstations. My brother who went through 3 years ahead of me had to get a PC, a 386. I had to get a Pentium (at least 60MHz). They make decisions each year, and those decisions live for the 4 or 5 years until the incoming freshmen graduate. It’s got to be tough to make technology choices based on what skills will be needed 5 years later, but instead of playing it safe, Virginia Tech tends to go out on a limb a bit. Even if their crystal ball isn’t perfect, I think it breeds in the students a willingness to go out on a limb, try new technologies and see if they help you build better solutions. Just my 2 cents, but I’m proud of my school for taking the chance on the TabletPC platform.
The article Loren links to is critical of the choice. Students have always been critical of the computer requirements, so this doesn’t surprise me. In Engineering especially, they require some pretty heavy specs. Both my brother and I probably spent a good 50% over and above what a reasonable “family PC” would have cost at the time. Looking back, it was a good choice. After seeing how long Autocad would take to render simple drawings, I almost wished they would have required even more horsepower, but they do pretty good at keeping costs reasonable, while still giving you the tools you need to learn.
It looks like some media networks are testing the water, but they aren’t embracing free media in a way that consumers will really love it. About a year ago, I blogged about how I would like to see networks embrace RSS, and podcast-style media distribution. The most important part of my post was that the networks would need to change the advertising paradigm, including the standard metrics from folks like Neilson.
It seems that folks like Disney / ABC are starting down the path by putting some shows online but they’re missing the point. They are still grasping for their old model of forced commercials, and in the process they are crippling the possible expansion of viewership that would come with free use of their content. People want to put shows on their video iPod, on their laptop, or simply save them to watch at a different time on their home PC/Entertainment system.
I understand that commercials matter to the networks, because that’s been their paycheck for a long time. Unfortunately commercials are becoming less and less effective. Tivo/DVRs are only a part of the problem. Most of the time when I’m watching TV, I have a laptop next to me. During commercials, I check email, read blogs, do work, etc. I’m not paying attention anyway! Mark Cuban has an interesting idea for how to make commercials more interesting. The only way that the effectiveness of commercials is going to go up is if the networks make them interesting. If it’s compelling, timely, in-context with the show I’m watching, or funny, then I might pay attention. Otherwise, you might as well let me skip it because I’m not paying attention anyway.
Let me set up a pointer to a Blogger API or MetaWeblog API endpoint (or any other endpoint that a significant number of people use), and then mirror any content I post to my Space to that endpoint. That’s it. This solves the “Let me have my own domain name” request that has caused many bloggers to turn away from Spaces. If this feature was implemented, I could use Spaces as my Editor and still keep my blog on my own server using dasBlog. It would also enable me to us all of the Spaces-integrated goodness of Live messenger, Expo, etc., while still maintaining control of my blog.
Just a thought…