Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Meeting of Minds

Today we are presenting a fascinating new paper by a team of psychologists, including Kurt Gray, Joshua Knobe, Mark Sheskin, Paul Bloom and Lisa Feldman Barrett and here the scientists frame the mystery they want to solve:
Do people’s mental capacities fundamentally change when they remove a sweater? This seems absurd: How could removing a piece of clothing change one’s capacity for acting or feeling? In six studies, however, we show that taking off a sweater—or otherwise revealing flesh—can significantly change the way a mind is perceived. In this article, we suggest that the kind of mind ascribed to another person depends on the relative salience of his or her body—that the perceived capacity for both pain and planned action depends on whether someone wears a sweater or tank-top.
To understand why sweaters and tank-tops influence the kind of minds we perceive, it’s important to know about the different qualities we imagine in others. In general, people assess the 'minds' of others and it doesn’t matter if it’s the “mind” of a pet, an iPhone or a perceived deity. This assessment is aligned along two distinct dimensions.

Firstly, we grade other peoples' minds in terms of agency, Whereby Human beings have lots of agency but goldfish less so. Secondly, we also think of other peoples' minds in terms of the ability to have experience, to feel and perceive.

The psychologists suggest that these dual dimensions are actually a duality, and that there’s a direct tradeoff between the ability to have agency and experience. For example, if we endow someone with lots of feeling, then they probably have less agency, and if someone has lots of agency, then they probably are less sensitive to experience.

In other words, we automatically assume that the capacity to think and the capacity to feel are in opposition. It’s a zero sum game.

This work also raises important philosophical questions. Ever since Descartes, it’s been suggested that people are natural dualists, dividing the world into an immaterial realm full of souls and a physical world full of objects.

This simple framework, however, appears to be a bit too simple. Instead, the psychologists propose that humans are actually Platonic dualists, following Plato’s belief that there are two distinct types of mind: a mind for thinking and reasoning and a mind for emotions and passions.

What’s surprising is how easily we switch between these different mental capacities. All it takes is a peek of skin before a thinker morphs into a feeler.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

London's Tower bridge: Vintage Image

Never before seen photograph of the construction of Tower Bridge being constructed have been unveiled after a stash of hundred-year-old photos were found in a skip.

The 50 sepia pictures, dating back to 1892, reveal in incredible detail the ingenuity behind one of the capital's most popular tourist destinations.

The discarded pictures, which were retrieved by a caretaker who was looking after a building being turned into flats in 2006, have spent the last five years in a carrier bag underneath his bed.

The 59-year-old, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that after the occupants of the Westminster office building moved out, the album and a number of documents were thrown into a skip outside.

He said: "I took the ledgers to the Tower Bridge Museum because I thought they might have some historical value. I told the man at the museum that I had also found some photos but he told me they already had plenty of those.

I didnt know what to do with them so I wrapped them in some brown paper and put them in a bag under the bed." We will have a gallery of the images on the Telegraph site later today.

Picture: David Willoughby / Barcroft Media

Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory - YouTube

Daniel Kahneman's most sustaining and fascinating facets are the notions of the experiencing self and the remembering self, underpinning the fundamental duality of the human condition — one voiceless and immersed in the moment, the other occupied with keeping score and learning from experience.

I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

Kahneman spoke of these two selves and the cognitive traps around them in his fantastic 2010 TED talk:

Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy -- and our own self-awareness.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Using good governance to control cloud risks

Cloud computing provides organizations with an alternative way of obtaining IT services and offers many benefits including increased flexibility as well as cost reduction. However many organizations are reluctant to adopt the cloud because of concerns over information security and a loss of control over the way IT service is delivered.

These fears have been exacerbated by recent events reported in the press including outages by Amazon and the three-day loss of Blackberry services from RIM. So what approach can an organization take to ensure that the benefits of the cloud outweigh the risks?

To understand the risks involved it is important to understand that the cloud is not a single model. The cloud covers a wide spectrum of services and delivery models ranging from in-house virtual servers to software accessed by multiple organizations over the Internet. A clear explanation of this range is described by NIST. This document describes the five essential characteristics that define the cloud, the three service models and the four deployment models. The risks of the cloud depend upon both the service model and the delivery model adopted.

When moving to the cloud it is important that the business requirements for the move are understood and that the cloud service is selected meets these needs. Taking a good governance approach, such as COBIT, is the key to safely embracing the cloud and the benefits that it provides:

  • Identify the business requirements for the cloud based solution. This seems obvious but many organizations are using the Cloud without knowing it.
  • Determine the cloud service needs based on the business requirements. Some applications will be more business critical than others.
  • Develop scenarios to understand the security threats and weaknesses. Use these to determine the response to these risks in terms of requirements for controls and questions to be answered. Considering these risks may lead to the conclusion that the risk of moving to the Cloud is too high.
  • Understand what the accreditations and audit reports offered by the cloud provider mean and actually cover.

Read more of this article

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why do Americans Use Social Media?

Two-thirds of online adults (66%) use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn. These internet users say that connections with family members and friends (both new and old) are a primary consideration in their adoption of social media tools. Roughly two thirds of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use these sites, while half say that connecting with old friends they've lost touch with is a major reason behind their use of these technologies.

Other factors play a much smaller role: 14% of users say that connecting around a shared hobby or interest is a major reason they use social media and 9% say that making new friends is equally important. Reading comments by public figures and finding potential romantic partners are cited as major factors by just 5% and 3% of social media users, respectively.

The survey was conducted Apr. 26-May 22, 2011. Read the full report for more information about the degree to which different age and ethnic groups value social media.

See the full report for more details, including differences among age and ethnic groups when it comes to what they value most in social media.

The times they are a changin' - YouTube

There are two types of bosses: the one that changes as a continuous learning experience and understands the motivation of the others, those who do not (yet).

And in these two basic attitudes one can also reflect the success with their employees. It can be simplified to identify the following two types of managers:
  • Those who accept change as something continuous vs. those who see it as a one-time task.
  • Those who see their success as something temporary vs. those who strive constantly to maintain it.
  • Those who believe that anything is possible vs. those who think their future depends on the past.
  • Those who allow change vs. those who hide behind operating procedures, to keep everyone under control.
  • Those who see life as a permanent and lasting learning experience vs.. those who think they have reached their "target" and will no longer move.
  • Those who keep their teams alive and alert to changes vs. those who allow their teams to "doze off".
  • Those who view change as an impetus for dialogue, and a potential insight to see improvement vs. those who see change and dialogue as intrusive, annoying and /or bothersome.
  • Those who radiate energy and personal motivation vs. those that show fatigue and negative emotions.
  • Those who think they can gain something vs. those who are afraid of losing something.

Mistakes in Not Making Mistakes

The past year seems to have yielded various waves of content celebrating making mistakes. Advancing the “failure at the heart of innovation” theme seems to have become a cause célèbre for the creativity and innovation set.

Celebrating mistakes as part of innovation was the topic of a July Innochat on Twitter on innovation failure and, most recently, a Wall Street Journal article on “Better Ideas through Failure.”

I grew up with a clear perfectionist streak (or whatever term you would use to suggest whatever is deeper, wide, and more permanent than a “streak”), I wrestle with a gleeful attitude toward failure.

Yet between Kathryn Schulz’s TED talk “On Being Wrong” and recognition of my own experiences where learning from something that did not succeed as planned has led to much better future results, openness to errors clearly has its place in creativity and innovation.

However, I think celebrating mistakes in and of themselves is an easy banner for behaviours that don’t come easily to many people or many organizations, for that matter.

It’s not so much organizations are celebrating failure as the willingness to move forward on efforts before everything is figured out and an appreciation for learning when something doesn’t go right.

Being Bad at Making Mistakes
What really needs to happen in an organization to benefit from an apparent willingness to celebrate and reward failure?

Instead of listing behaviors for celebrating mistakes (which I started to do but failed to complete), it’s much easier to list mistakes individuals and organizations make at making mistakes.

Thinking through the personal perfectionist demons I’ve had to try (and still try) to slay, here are eight mistakes that can shut you off from productive failure:
  1. Being afraid of fear
  2. Not being able to manage or tolerate ample levels of risk
  3. Becoming easily embarrassed – either personally or organizationally
  4. Failing to properly frame and learn from experiments
  5. Being uncomfortable with unanswered questions
  6. Doing a bad job of making assumptions which allow you to keep making progress
  7. Focusing too strongly on too much detail
  8. Not being able to fix things as you go

To read the full article visit the Innovation Excellence website

UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011 published

After a consultation period which ran from 22 March to 17 June 2011, the Department of Health has now launched the final version of the UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011.

The plan aims to create more flexibility and clearer communication between all parties involved in the Government response to a pandemic.

The UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011 sets out the main phases of a pandemic and the likely scenarios under the following conditions:

  • Low impact
  • Moderate impact
  • High impact.

In each scenario there a four clear sections:

  • Nature and scale of the illness – what defines the need for the pandemic to have reached this level i.e. widespread disease;
  • Key healthcare delivery – specific actions and guidance for healthcare providers;
  • Impact on the wider society – considerations on how this may be affecting the local community; and
  • Public messages – reassurance and specific information for the general public.

The plan builds on the guidance from 2007 and lessons learnt from the H1N1 (2009) influenza pandemic, and the latest scientific evidence.

The document is broken down as follows:

1. Introduction
2. The challenge of pandemic influenza
3. The strategic approach to pandemic preparedness
4. Key elements of pandemic response
5. Communication and public engagement
6. The health and social care response
7. Whole of society response
8. Further information.

Section 7 (Whole of society response) contains general business continuity information and provides details about the assumptions that organizations should make when developing pandemic preparedness strategies.

Organizations are told to consider the impacts of staff absence and the impacts of interdependencies. If organizations are planning to increase the proportions of staff that work from home as a business continuity measure they are advised to ‘discuss this with their telecommunications providers well in advance to allow them to put the necessary hardware and software in place’.

Assumptions include:

  • The UK Government does not plan to close borders, stop mass gatherings or impose controls on public transport during any pandemic.
  • Organizations should work on the assumption that most of their staff will not have access to vaccines.

Read the document as a PDF.

Communications: 60 Hudson Street, Manhatten, NY

Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors from Ben Mendelsohn on Vimeo.

We keep thinking and reading about the Internet as a cultural phenomenon, but what about its palpable physicality? In 2010, it was estimated that the world produced over one thousand exobytes of new data, or one trillion gigabytes.

Most of it doesn’t stay put — instead, it travels through the world’s servers, but where exactly does it go? That’s precisely what Ben Mendelsohn set out to answer in Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors, a fascinating short documentary for his masters thesis at The New School.

The film takes us inside 60 Hudson Street in Lower Manhattan — a deceptively nondescript building that houses one of the world’s major nodes of the Internet. The rest…well, you’ll have to see for yourself:
"It’s really vital to remember that the Internet is physical. The Internet can be touched, it is material and it exists — because so much of the rhetoric surrounding current concepts of ‘cyberspace’ suggests that it’s somehow just this sort of magic, etherial realm that exists ‘out there’ almost on its own.” ~ Stephen Graham, Professor of Cities and Society, Newcastle University"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Replace Windows Explorer with a free, feature-rich file manager

Bill Detwiler exmaines five free file managers that might make IT pros and power users dump Windows Explorer.

The average Windows user would probably never consider using a file manager other than the one built into the operating system–Windows Explorer. But, TR Dojo viewers aren’t average Windows users. They like to optimize, customize, and just plain tinker with their computers, especially the operating system.
Well, during this TR Dojo episode, I discuss five, free file managers that you can use instead:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Where Do Good Ideas Come from - YouTube

One of our most innovative, popular thinkers takes on-in exhilarating style-one of our key questions: Where do good ideas come from?

With Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson pairs the insight of his bestselling Everything Bad Is Good for You and the dazzling erudition of The Ghost Map and The Invention of Air to address an urgent and universal question: What sparks the flash of brilliance? How does groundbreaking innovation happen? Answering in his infectious, culturally omnivorous style, using his fluency in fields from neurobiology to popular culture, Johnson provides the complete, exciting, and encouraging story of how we generate the ideas that push our careers, our lives, our society, and our culture forward.

Beginning with Charles Darwin's first encounter with the teeming ecosystem of the coral reef and drawing connections to the intellectual hyperproductivity of modern megacities and to the instant success of YouTube, Johnson shows us that the question we need to ask is, What kind of environment fosters the development of good ideas? His answers are never less than revelatory, convincing, and inspiring as Johnson identifies the seven key principles to the genesis of such ideas, and traces them across time and disciplines.

Most exhilarating is Johnson's conclusion that with today's tools and environment, radical innovation is extraordinarily accessible to those who know how to cultivate it. Where Good Ideas Come From is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how to come up with tomorrow's great ideas.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spotting an Ineffective Leader

It’s important to realize that just because someone is in a leadership position, doesn’t necessarily mean they should be. To put it another way, not all leaders are created equal.

The problem many organizations are suffering from is a recognition problem – they can’t seem to recognize good leaders from bad ones. In the text that follows, we address how to spot ineffective leaders pointing out a few things that should be obvious, but apparently aren’t:

  1. Poor Character: A leader who lacks character or integrity will not endure the test of time. It doesn’t matter how intelligent, affable, persuasive, or savvy a person is, if they are prone to rationalizing unethical behaviour based upon current or future needs they will eventually fall prey to their own undoing…
  2. Lack of Performance: Nobody is perfect, but leaders who consistently fail are not leaders, no matter how much you wish they were. While past performance is not always a certain indicator of future events, a long-term track record of success should not be taken lightly. Someone who has consistently experienced success in leadership roles has a much better chance of success than someone who has not. It’s important to remember unproven leaders come with a high risk premium.
  3. Poor Communication Skills: Show me a leader with poor communication skills and I’ll show you someone who will be short-lived in their position. Great leaders can communicate effectively across mediums, constituencies, and environments. They are active listeners, fluid thinkers, and know when to dial it up, down, or off.
  4. Self-Serving Nature: If a leader doesn’t understand the concept of “service above self” they will not engender the trust, confidence, and loyalty of those they lead. Any leader is only as good as his or her team’s desire to be led by them. An over abundance of ego, pride, and arrogance are not positive leadership traits. Long story short; if a leader receives a vote of non-confidence from their subordinates…game over.
  5. One Size Fits All Leadership Style: Great leaders are fluid and flexible in their approach. They understand the power of, and necessity for contextual leadership. “My way or the highway” leadership styles don’t play well in today’s world, will result in a fractured culture, and ultimately a non-productive organization. Only those leaders who can quickly recognize and adapt their methods to the situation at hand will be successful over the long haul.
  6. Lack of Focus and Follow-Through: Those leaders who lack the focus and attention to detail needed to apply leverage and resources in an aggressive and committed fashion will perish. Leaders who do not possess a bias toward action, or who cannot deliver on their obligations will not be successful. Leadership is about performance…Intentions must be aligned with results for leaders to be effective.
  7. Not Forward Looking: No vision equals no leadership. Leaders satisfied with the status quo, or who tend to be more concerned about survival than growth won’t do well over the long-run. The best leaders are focused on leading change and innovation to keep their organizations fresh, dynamic and growing. Bottom line – leaders who build a static business doom themselves to failure.
  8. Disconnected from the Market: Leaders not attuned to the needs of the market will fail. As the old saying goes, if you’re not taking care of your customers, someone else will be more than happy to. Successful leaders focus on customer satisfaction and loyalty. They find ways to consistently engage them and incorporate them into their innovation and planning initiatives. If you ignore, mistreat, or otherwise don’t value your customer base, your days as a leader are most certainly numbered.
  9. Not Invested: Leaders are fully committed to investing in those they lead. They support their team, build into their team, mentor and coach their team, and they truly care for their team. A leader not fully invested in their team won’t have a team – at least not an effective one.
  10. Not Accountable: Real leaders are accountable. They don’t blame others, don’t claim credit for the success of their team, but always accept responsibility for failures that occur on their watch. Most of all, leaders are accountable to their team. I’ve always said that leaders not accountable to their people will eventually be held accountable by their people.
  11. Not Focused: Leaders who are not intentional and are not focused, will fail themselves and their team. Leaders who lack discipline will model the wrong behaviors and will inevitably spread themselves too thin. Organizations are at the greatest risk when leaders lose their focus.
  12. Lacking Vision: Poor vision, tunnel vision, vision that is fickle, or a non-existent vision will cause leaders to fail. A leader’s job is to align the organization around a clear and achievable vision. This cannot occur when the blind lead the blind.

The moral of this story is leaders need to be honest, have a demonstrated track record of success, be excellent communicators, place an emphasis on serving those they lead, be fluid in approach, have laser focus, and a bias toward action. If these traits are not possessed by you or your current leaders, you will be in for a very rocky road ahead and a less succesful future.

8 Great Twitter Tools That Will Get You Tweeting

Here are some twitter tools that will make you more efficient and get you Tweeting like a Pro:

1. BufferTweet With Better Results

Whenever you are reading an article, and not quite sure, whether Tweeting it right now was a good idea. It might have been very early in the morning or late at night. By putting all your Tweets into a Buffer, they will be posted for you at the optimal times, well spaced out over the day. You can add Tweets your Buffer right from the article with the browser extensions with just one click.

Pro Tip: What helps a great deal is that Buffer provides you with analytics for each Tweet that you post. You will learn about the number of clicks, retweets and reach right inside the App.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet like a Pro

2. TwylahGive Your Tweets A Longer Life

As a matter of fact, a Tweet’s life is only very limited. If you want to prolong its life, Twylah is a wonderful way to do it. The App automatically displays all Tweets from your stream on a beautiful Twitter Brand Page for you. It will give your followers a chance to learn about the topics you are Tweeting without having to study your Twitter stream beforehand.

Pro Tip: Twylah also offers you to send a “Power Tweet”, which will allow you to post a Tweet to a Twylah page. This page is surrounded by a lot of other relevant content and has shown to increase engagement with a Tweet considerably.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

3. MarketMeSuiteYour Powerful Social Media Dashboard

Only recently the paid-only MarketMeSuite has opened up its service to be free for everyone. It boasts a ton of great features that make it well worth giving a go. You can create reply campaigns, pull in RSS feeds and compare the Klout score of the users you are interacting with you. On top, you can also collaborate with other’s through the App’s multiple user setting.

Pro Tip: What we like best about MarketMeSuite is that all its features are explained in comprehensible videos as soon as you sign up for it.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

4. TweriodFind Out Your Best Times To Tweet

Ever wondered which times of the day would be the best for you to Tweet? Look no further as Tweriod, as the App gives you a wonderful analysis of when you will be able to reach most followers. The App takes into account how well your Tweets have performed at various times and when your followers used to Tweet the most.

Pro Tip: What we like best about Tweriod is that the algorithm excludes Twitter Tools which schedule or auto-tweet as this obviously means your followers aren’t online.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

5. TwilertGoogle Alerts For Twitter

This is an App we suggest you might give a go if you are trying to monitor a brand or search term on Twitter continually. Similar to Google Alerts, Twilert can set up any term and then be notified about any activity on Twitter about it. This was particularly helpful if you can’t spend too much time on Twitter each day, yet need a daily digest email to be informed.

Pro Tip: If you give it a go, take a look at the great filtering options ranging from mood, languages and date filters.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

6. TweetWallyTurn Tweets Into Blogposts

Similar to an App called Storify, TweetWally is a wonderful solution to bring life back to your Tweets. You can take your own stream, do a search or follow a hashtag and make beautiful collections of any Tweets you find valuable. This can be very useful if you are following an important event, conference or else.

Pro Tip: Once you have made your collection you can easily embed all Tweets as a blogpost and offer it as an innovative piece of content for your readers.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

7. ParrotFishGet More Insights Into Tweets On

ParrotFish from labs is a wonderful productivity tool to save you a lot of time. It displays all links from Tweets you come across with rich text preview. This means you can read up on the post from the link, before clicking through. We found this to be a great way to stay focused on reading news and not get distracted by clicking on posts which aren’t worth my time.

Pro Tip: The Chrome Extension also comes with a functionality to save items to Instapaper directly from, we believe this is a huge efficiency boost.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

8. TweetLevelConnect with the right people on Twitter

Whilst building your network on Twitter, it is often key to make those people you engage with relevant and impactful for your niche. TweetLevel offers a wonderful solution to search other Twitter users by a number of different parameters. For example you can search by influence, trust, engagement or popularity. It then makes it very easy for you to follow and start talking to these people right from the App.

Pro Tip: On top of users, you can also search by topics and key words. This will give you a wonderful display of graphs and pie charts around this topic.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like a Pro

These are the top 8 Tools that will help you the most to put Twitter to work. They all allow you to do things faster and more efficiently, yet they still require you to be active and not on auto-pilot.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gary Ennis @nsdesign explains why BT Care are not using Twitter correctly - Youtube

Gary Ennis
from gives a fast and furious intro to social media. November 2010, Glasgow Event organised by