Magnus Aschan

Journalist | Technologist | Public Speaker

Technology’s epic story

This talk, recorded 2009, with author and overall tech guru Kevin Kelly never gets old. Check it out at remember to pick up your jaw from the floor. Thanks.

 

Going into space with 64k

I’ve more or less grown up with the demo scene on Atari and Amiga. The magicians: coders, graphic artists and musicians made stuff happen on the screen that was simply jaw dropping. Not the least considering the 8-bit computers with all the limitations that implied.

The scene is still alive and limitations is still a factor. This demo Fermi Paradox by Mercury runs on Windows and only requires 64k. And yes, Jaw dropping is still a factor.

What the CIO is neglecting

I’ve been eavesdropping a bit lately. Sneaking around dark suits in fancy venues filled to the brim with words like digitization, sourcing and mobility. It was, in other words, very nice and interesting which it usually is when my colleagues at CIO Sweden arrange these sort of events.

158 of the CIO:s had participated in a big survey and for me it showed a few very interesting results. Only one third saw technical skills as the foremost strength as a CIO. Highest on the list was business knowledge followed by communications and leadership skills together with a holistic view on processes.

Furthermore technical skills was not of greater importance when handling the duties as a CIO. Most important was good understanding of business processes, communication skills and the ability to think strategic. The CIO does not spend much time on IT operations. The most time is spent on communications with the board, internal customers and strategic planning.

Paradoxically the CIO sees the lack of IT competence and flawed understanding of IT as a great hurdle communicating with the board. The CIO also has great difficulties showing the value and benefit of IT to the board.

As I see it. If you don’t value the technical skills yourself and spend time to update your own knowledge you’re going to have a tough time convincing others.

Or even shorter. Don’t throw bricks when you live in a glass house.

Or wait. Just put everything in the cloud and you’ll be allright.

Acknowledging Higgs

boson

Finally. After decades of tests, after building the worlds largest particle collider they got it! And of course they had to get acknowledged big time for it. The Higgs boson was found and today I congratulate Peter Higgs, from the UK, and Francois Englert from Belgium, to the Noble Prize in physics. Explosive!

Image source: CERN

Age of the local cloud

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PRISM is shaking the industry. Clearer than ever price comes at the cost of privacy and integrity. No price tag, as in the case of most consumer clouds, means no privacy.

I hope most consumers are getting aware of it and I hope most companies are acting on it.

Sad as it might be, that this is the global society we have built using technology, there are possible ways to a better digital realm.

American cloud services are under scrutiny and the timing for boosting local services, whether it be continental, national or regional, are right now.

I’m pretty sure you could migrate thousands of customers from for example mail services at Google and Microsoft in a jiffy if you built a safe, fast, free, local and non-tapped service of equivalent quality. It probably doesn’t even have to be free, and maybe it could even be of slightly less quality. There will still be hordes of users that will move given the choice, awareness on privacy is on the rise.

Local cloud services have a great opportunity right now, I sincerely hope they will grab it.

Data for the faint hearted

Big data is for the faint hearted. The ones without conviction and visions in the corporate world. The ones that are mostly about mitigating risk and making sure with all possible measures money is not lost.

Sure, there are companies like Google that build their whole business idea on massive data. I will promptly exclude them, but they are a tiny minority in the scheme of things.

Most companies now taking in the power of big data do it mainly because they are afraid to fail. Processing massive data is not their main business model. It is something new and exciting but most likely will lead to less creativity, less vision and a whole lot of thinking in the box.

Because acting on big data means giving customers exactly what they want. No surprises. No risk. Nothing new. Exactly what will give, a most likely, moderate return of investment. Inventions are left in the lab.

So what to do, scrap big data? No, not at all. But before crunching numbers and acting on analysis made on billions of figures. Figure out first what it really means.

Technology is neither good or bad, it is neutral and reflects society. It is not determined but leads us where we lead it through culture, politics, social structures and norms.

PRISM, Google, Facebook and Twitter all reflect this. And right now we are on a path where big data is mainly used to secure (on national levels), earn money to corporations and decrease integrity.

It is and could be used to other things too, perhaps more beneficial to the global community: gathering data to optimize public infrastructure, handle common resources like oil, fish and gas and making health research to save lives.

Maybe it can even save the faint hearted.

 

Don’t forget about Chuck

History is written by winners, somebody said. And by all means, Apple is perhaps more than ever seen as the winner in the IT industry right now. Even though the passing of Steve Jobs stirred the community, the bibliography, which I truly enjoyed reading, built the cult of Steve even stronger.

A feature film is on the way and right as I write this a Key Note is taking place revealing new products and services from Apple. Millions of people wait in anticipation.

So Apple takes credit for a lot of things, including pioneering the personal computer.

But don’t forget about Chuck.

This is one of the true inventors of personal computing that has, in my opinion, not seen enough of the spotlight. He invented the 6502 microprocessor while working at MOS Technology. This is the CPU that harbors in famous machines like the Apple II, VIC-20, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), peripherals like printers and believe it or not pinball machines.

Chuck Peddle made a bigger stir than most in the technology business. He had a vision about a microprocessor revolution and it all started with the 6502. Later on he also fathered the Commodore PET and even though a bit reluctant he made the VIC-20 possible, the first computer to sell more than one million (even though the Woz in error have mentioned Apple II was first to reach the million).

Would it not have been for internal politics most of us could have been using PET clones right now instead of IBM PC clones or Macs as Commodore decided to go for home computing instead of business computing.

Then this post would have been named: don’t forget about the Woz.

Why technology matters

Thomas P. Hughes Human-Built World: How to Think about Technology and Culture and David E. Nyes Technology Matters: Questions to live with.

Thomas P. Hughes Human-Built World: How to Think about Technology and Culture and David E. Nyes Technology Matters: Questions to live with.

As I’ve been diving into hundreds of pages of literature lately I’ve learned to see technology in a new perspective. I’ve been amazed by tech as long as I can remember. I’ve felt it mattered on a grand scale, intimately intertwining with us, but not exactly how. So, now I’ve had one of those moments where feeling meets theory and everything gets clear.

This is not the least due to David E. Nyes fantastic book with the title Technology Matters – Questions to live with. To give you the short short version technology matters because it is in fact an inseparable part of us. As far back as archaeologists can find traces of our ancestors there have been tools, and hence technology.

Technology clearly does matter, which is also the matter of this blog along with tidbits and reflections on the media landscape.

So there it is. I’m off. This is my private blog, no one else is involved, no one else is to be blamed.

Welcome!

ps. Credit to photographer Andreas Eklund who shot my header picture. ds.