strategy


Del.icio.us logoImage via Wikipedia

It is a sad day, but it seems Yahoo! is shutting down delicious (see also).

Del.icio.us has been a reliable web-based bookmarking resource that has not only enabled bookmarking in the cloud, so bookmarks could be accessed from any computer you happen to be using, and sharing them with others.  It facilitated multi-tag classification of them, so that you could zero in on what you’re after by triangulating with related words in your own naming convention, and breaking free of traditional, hierarchical folder storage structure.

It has been a great resource for researching the language that others use to describe the topics and pages you are interested in, and has allowed, if not encouraged, the development of worldviews and, though some scoff at the word, folksonomies.

While this news is a shame, the truth is that the resource has not been leveraged, and some say it has been neglected, since it was acquired in 2005, which happens to be when I began making use, about 5,000 bookmarks ago.  I recently signed up for Pinboard (which has a one time cost of about $7 right now, and offers an auto logging archive for an annual subscription).  The thought of paying for something you’ve done for free might bother some, but Barry Graubart makes an interesting point in his post on this subject when he says “remember that the lack of a business model is what required Delicious to sell to Yahoo, who neglected it.”

I’ve long been compiling material for my (in progress) book entitled “Long Term Short Sightedness”.  I’ll have to be sure to save some room to write about this decision by Yahoo!

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AULogo

Every now and again, I’m asked why one post or another of mine seems to be off on a tangent from “the usual”.  In these cases, it seems that while I’ve stayed true to the theme of connecting ideas to create value, the exchange for that value isn’t as obvious or direct.  To me, these are the times that are most interesting – involving translation of the currency, whether to or from knowledge, experience, or goods.  It is that value translation that is at the heart of the Second Integral.

I’ll speculate now that this will likley prove to be one of those times.

While walking through Maplewood, NJ last weekend, I came upon a new store in place of one that had recently closed.  I ventured in to see what it was about, and discovered it to be an art/craft boutique, with lots of hand crafted and nicely made/decorated items.   A woman approached me and asked if I needed any help, and I asked if these were all things made by people locally.  She was Cate Lazen, and she turns out to have been the founder of Arts Unbound, the organization that opened this “pop-up” store.  She answered my question, saying “well, yes, and everything in the store was made by people dealing with a disability of one sort or another.”

With a part of my brain dedicated full time to triangulation, I found myself automatically thinking about the coalescence of purposes here.  On the one hand, people with disabilities, engaging in artistic work as physical therapy, an expressive outlet, to perhaps generate income, while gaining pride, satisfaction, experience… all through their creative art.

Art as therapy itself is clearly valuable – but what struck me as particularly interesting was its combination of it here with (at least) two other constituencies.  According to Cate, the shop also employs people with disabilities, so it satisfies many of these same therepeutic purposes for the workers as it does the artists.  And of course, being a shop, it brings customers into the mix.

The simple combination of manufacturer + shopkeeper + consumer may not, on the surface, seem so interesting – it is just how a business works.  But the dynamic in this case yields some additional benefits beyond the traditional.

Along with the direct purposes noted above, for the artists and workers, and obviously filling customers’ needs, there are some more subtle byproducts as well, and they’re accentuated by the season’s spirit, due to the timing of the shop’s materialization just in time for the holidays.

Those who find their way to the shop will undoubtedly gain awareness of the overall purposes being served by the organization.   Additionally, buying a gift from this store provides the giver the satisfaction of giving twice (at least) – to the recipient of the gift, to the artist, to the shop worker, and even the good feeling of having contributed in some small way.  All this can even make you feel a little better about buying something for yourself.

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Complementary anglesImage via Wikipedia: Complementary Angles

Since Tony Shaw wrote his post about their motivations and intentions in selling the SemTech Conference and Semantic Universe, some others have asked what I was thinking by having proposed it in the first place.  That’s actually pretty easy to explain.

In my initial post about the deal, I touched on my sense that the WebMediaBrands approach to the space, and its efforts to date, complemented what Tony was doing with SemTech.  Sure, they both focused on similar material, and involved many of the same cast of characters, but the interesting part was in their individual strategies and execution.

As background: Outside the more academically focused ISWC, SemTech had pretty much become the annual convention for the community, a good part of which was about migration to the business potential of these technologies.  The energy caught the attention of what was then Jupiter Media, who saw the opportunity to focus right in on what outside business was looking for: how to leverage these capabilities for competitive advantage.

SemTech too was looking to help answer that question – but was doing so within the context of fostering that community and its discovery, with programs structured to focus on sector-specific application.  Jupiter came from the other direction, with the LinkedData Planet conference asking right off, how business can make use, which they sustained in the subsequent Web3.0 Conference, under WebMedia’s Mediabistro.

It is the underlying approaches of the organizers that shines a light on the potential synergies here – the complementary angles – and the benefits should manifest outside the organizers themselves.  The modus operandi in the case of the SemTech organizers has been methodical community building, across academics, standards and business, while that for WebMedia is vertical integration of offerings for their consumption.  So the thinking was that SemTech’s introspective contemplation of the question, and WebMedia’s pragmatic approach would yield brass tacks.

68/365 - TackImage by Niharb via Flickr

To put a shine on those tacks, combining of the big SemTech event with WebMedia’s year-round and multi-pronged focus-within-the-vertical should also help wash away a subtle but present “us versus them” undercurrent from among participants.  For today, the community can ignore any “which team” questions, or what “it” (Semantic Web, Linked Data, Web 3.0, Web of Data) should be called, and who coined which terms.  As one, the combined efforts can focus on furtherance – for interoperability, efficiency, usefulness…  Perhaps we’ll see the first signs of this happening at this week’s Semantic Web Summit, in Boston.

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This post is an update relating to a few of my other running-form related posts during September of this year.  The subject has been about shifting form.  After some time off for an unrelated injury, getting going again has prompted me to again focus on how best to “think about” this targeted form:

My left footImage via Wikipedia

a) toe-heel foot strike, rather than heel-toe, just toe, or even flat
b) stride shortening
c) foot plant is below, rather than ahead of, center of gravity

At the outset, I primarily focused on the plant being toe-first, but noticed that this was difficult to do with a typical reaching stride.  This led to focusing on shortening stride in order to enable the toe to plant more easily.  This too felt odd until adding to the mix a slight shift forward in the center of gravity, and it all seemed to come together.

An illustration of the process of finding the ...Image via Wikipedia (finding center of gravity)

With these three things in mind, along with a 180 stride per minute cadence as a guide, the new form has been feeling more natural.  To keep things interesting, I am still alternating between my normal (Asics) treads and my newly acquired Newtons (Sir Isaacs).

The question then becomes whether one needs the altered shoe, if the mind can be trained to follow the more barefooty form.  Ultimately, perhaps not – but that remains to be seen.  For now, the Newtons allow doing it with much less thought.   With all else being the same, there is still an opportunity for subtle differences (and a mental leap) in the plant – just slightly flatter than toe-heel – even if ever so slight.  And it makes a very big difference.

When things become more second nature, I may throw in some focus on how the height of knee-raise, as well as of heel kick, impact how the form feels and performs.

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Image representing WebMediaBrands as depicted ...Image via CrunchBase

Today, WebMediaBrands announced that it acquired the Semantic Technology Conference (SemTech) and Semantic Universe.  SemTech has been the main non-academic annual gathering for the Semantic Technology space for six years thus far.  In the past few years, WebMediaBrands has also been active in the space, with its SemanticWeb and MediaBistro arms, and its organizing of related events including the Web3.0 Conference and before that, LinkedData Planet.

Semantic Technology ConferenceImage via Flickr

W3c semantic web stackImage via Wikipedia

  The combination of WebMediaBrands’ year-round focus on the space (through regional and sub-sector targeted events), with the annual convention that SemTech has been, should result in driving the space forward.  Together, their now complementary efforts should facilitate momentum on the commercial side of the space.  Perhaps we’ll also see the development of some useful industry-wide resources, as a result.

Update: Press release from Semantic Universe

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Statue of Isaac Newton at the Oxford Universit...Image via Wikipedia

The plan for Newton run #3 was to just “not think about it, and just let the shoe do the work”.   The reality was that I ended up focusing on how the strike compared to my normal one – and since, as I’ve mentioned, I’m not much of a heel striker anyway, it felt almost normal.  A little too normal.  So I became more deliberate about the toe-heel plant sequence.  Near the end of this run too, I was getting the moonwalk / wheels spinning in reverse sensation.

As with my other Newton runs, I followed with a few Asics Cumulus miles, intentionally trying to keep the same toe-heel strike order.  This wasn’t all that difficult to do, (at least relative to being deliberate about it in the Newtons).  The real test will be what happens in the Asics after this placement is more the norm in the Newtons, and happens without thinking.   This, of course, prompted some wondering about whether the change will really come from the focus, or from the shoe.

Run #4, though, was to be all about short stride length and increased turnover (to 180pm), with the only attention on plant to be about its location – directly beneath me, and not at all in front (with zero attention on the strike order).  The result, because of the mechanics of this movement, was that the strike was more toe-first, regardless. Followed again with a few non-Newton miles, continuing to focus on stride and plant-location, the strike did continue to be in the forefoot.  I’ll keep up the comparison to see what happens.

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Felix, Foot-Dragging Again?Image by william c hutton jr via Flickr

Ok, I’m still not able to “just go, and not think about it” with these new treads.  Just to review, I’m trying these out to assist in changing my form, though I think I was doing a pretty good job with mid-foot plant.  The idea with the Newtons is that they’ve got reduced heels, and thickened mid-foot – so there is more likelihood of the foot planting front-first than with the typical built-up heel of today’s running shoes.  The built-up forefoot is in the form of lugs that are supposed to depress into spaces in the sole, and spring back out in concert with your own, more springy turnover that would result from shortened stride and increased turnover.

But something strange did happen this time out – at about the middle of this second run.  It is a little hard to describe, but what comes to mind is a combination of a) doing the moonwalk, and b) the illusion of wheels spinning backwards when they’re clearly going forward.  The wheel illusion has been referred to as the wagonwheel or stroboscopic effect, attributed to position of spokes and the timing of film frames.  In this case though, the feeling seems to derive from trying to conceptualize the movement – and since the brain is so used to feeling heel first and then toe, encountering them in reverse may just be sending the signal that this must be backward motion.  The strangest part is that it makes it feel as if the foot is pushing forward through the plant  We’ll have to see if this wears off over time.

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This is a third post in what is turning out to be a series related to running form, and trying out some Newton running shoes (the Sir Isaac model – or Newtons on training wheels).  The objective in this little experiment is to try to shift my form to be more efficient.  Beyond shortening stride, it is about a deliberate toe-plant, with the intentions being to not only reduce impact and body wear, but to increase effectiveness of horizontal propulsion – and therefore speed and endurance.

Forefoot WearImage by Morten Liebach via Flickr

First run: Recommendation is to start out with short runs, so I did a couple of miles on them, and threw on my basic asics.

For starters, if you’re going out intending to change your form, you’re going to find yourself thinking really hard about things you normally just do automatically.  That’s exactly what was happening – thinking toe-plant, roll back, spring back – and every other element of your body movement comes into question.

The sensation of having lugs under your forefoot is certainly odd – and by the end of the first couple of miles, I was thinking that the balls of my feet would be aching later in the evening.

Cover of Cover of City Slickers

After watching City Slickers years ago, and liking the Norman character (that was the cow), I swore off eating veal.  Well that first run reiterated this sentiment; I kept being reminded of this decision for the next day or so by my screaming calves.  (I was given fair warning to expect this, and this is part of the basis for easing into wearing these shoes).

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So many fit folks that I talk to have had to give up running due to worn out knees, saying “doctor says I’m done”.  There are certainly times that I’ve felt like I was “done”, and I didn’t need anyone to tell me that!

A series of gait graphs, in the style of Hilde...Image via Wikipedia

Some of the basis for my past running thinking and experimentation has been about performance and efficiency, while some has been about longevity and wear-and-tear prevention, and some has just been about comfort and/or curiosity.   But thinking a bit more about about the mechanics of foot plant, stride and gait has me thinking I might dig in and make a go of some longer term, deliberate exprimentation – with enough time to unlearn some old habits and get beyond the awkwardness of shifting form.Here’s the text I posted to a running forum to see what thoughts and opinions might get thrown back:

Dilemma with mechanics and fitness

For context, at present, my running is not about races, performance or competition, but more for fitness (both physical and mental).  I’m also very analytical and enjoy considering and observing the differences that variations in mechanics can provide.

I am on the fence about trying out the Newtons, as I appreciate their mechanical potential, and have tried the pose method with ordinary shoes with no success (albeit likely with too little experimentation).  So here’s my question:  Given the improved biomechanics that can achieved with the:

  • reduced ankle roll motion potential of non-heal strike,
  • reduced compression of the quad on extension,
  • reduced arm swing (since the stride length is shortened)
  • and overall reduced heart rate resulting from all of the above,

If one’s objective is physical conditioning (vs competitive performance), would use of the Newtons reduce the ability to achieve the cardio and circulatory benefits sought (without having to double the time and distance of my running).

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Fox and Haskell formula showing the split betw...Image via Wikipedia

I was glad to receive one thoughtful response pretty quickly, saying “if it aint broke, don’t fix it”.  I can certainly understand where they were coming from – but I do think that if you’re doing something that has been shown to break it over time, you might want to think about fixing it even though it hasn’t broken anything yet!  Also, my question was really more to the point of objective – that is, if you get more of a workout running inefficiently, and you don’t care about winning or beating anyone else, does it make more sense to keep doing it inefficiently and get a better workout, or could you still make a case for making the change.

I’ve emailed the company that makes the Newton to get their thoughts on my question, but in the meantime, I’m probably going to grab a pair and try them out.

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Picture ? in robotic gait sequenceImage via Wikipedia

Not quite sure where I’m going to go with this, but along the way, I’m going to take some notes.

Running is something that I’ve long done, but without having given it a whole lot of thought.  Let me restate that: it is something I’ve done without analyzing it as much as I might ordinarily analyze things.  Let me try that again: … without having talked as much about my analysis of it.  That’s probably because most of the analysis has been something to keep me busy on longer runs, and has been in my head (and mostly without a spreadsheet being involved! – noted emphasis on “mostly”, rather than on “without”).

The thinking has generally been around foot plant, leg movement, energy and efficiency, translation of forces, performance… It really all began when making subtle shifts in center of mass and body angle, in order to give tiring parts of me a break – so I could make it all the way home. This evolved to trying out variations of foot-plant; softening ankle, knee and hip joints on impact; and even to deliberately reaching for heel plants to see if beginning some backward foot motion just prior to impact might give some pull-power (the way toe-clips for biking enable capturing the upward leg movement when driving the pedals around, to contribute to forward force and movement.

The experimentation wasn’t particularly scientific, and the most memorable observation was of a different kind of tired (specifically in the hamstrings). Next up was a little reading about Pose and some deliberate forward tilting and intentional toe-heel planting.  Beyond being a little awkward and almost confusing to the subconscious, I recall the lower legs taking quite a beating from that experiment.

Over time, I’ve evolved to a quiet and soft, mid-foot strike which seems to have served me well.  But I’m thinking more about what’s being left on the table.

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